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NSF’s Arctic Social Sciences Program Awards I-CHASS $300,000 Grant

The Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts, and Social Science (I-CHASS) is pleased to announce that the project Augmented Reality for Understanding Social and Environmental Science has received $300,000 in funding through an EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER)award from the National Science Foundation’s Arctic Social Sciences Program.

Augmented Reality for Understanding Social and Environmental Science will explore and develop the use of augmented reality applications on mobile computing devices to allow students to participate in simulated archeological digs. “Augmented Reality (AR) is an exciting emerging technology that overlays geographically registered three dimensional computer graphics on the real world,” said Dr. Alan B. Craig, Associate Director for Human-Computer Interaction at I-CHASS and a researcher at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) and Principal Investigator of the project.  “Until recently, AR required expensive hardware, or, at the minimum, a laptop computer equipped with a web camera. Recent improvements in cellular telephone technology, however, have enabled the possibility to use a smart phone as an interaction device for AR thus creating a portable AR experience.  By using the cell phone as a ‘magic lens,’ participants can view the real world through the camera on the phone and see the augmentations in place, in registration with the real world. This award will allow us to do some really exciting investigations and development in the use of augmented reality in the area of archeology and education. We are thrilled to bring these technologies to the social sciences, and to work with Arctic scientists.”

EAGER awards are made to support exploratory work in its early stages on untested, but potentially transformative, research ideas or approaches.  “Augmented Reality for Understanding Social and Environmental Science will create a demonstration of how Augmented Reality can aid in understanding and teaching social and environmental science,” continued Dr. Kevin Franklin, Executive Director of I-CHASS.  “This award also demonstrates I-CHASS’s commitment to bring innovative technologies directly to our target communities and we are excited at the prospect of future collaborations with NSF’s Office of Polar Programs.”

Dr. Craig will work closely with co-PI Robert McGrath and Senior Scientist David Bock, both research scientists at NCSA. Professor Sophia Perdikaris, from the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, as well as students from the Digital Media program at Parkland College will also be collaborators on the project.

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Founded in 2004 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I-CHASS charts new ground in high-performance computing and the humanities, arts, and social sciences by creating both learning environments and spaces for digital discovery. I-CHASS presents path-breaking research, computational resources, collaborative tools, and educational programming to showcase the future of the humanities, arts, and social sciences.

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