Star Wars Death Star reborn in virtual reality at UIC

Arthur Nishimoto and the Stormtroopers in the Death Star, shown in the UIC CAVE2 Hybrid Reality Environment. - Chencheng Zhao, Medill

Participants: Arthur Nishimoto

In January 2016, Siying Li, a graduate student at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University covering technology innovations for arts, contacted the UIC Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) to do a story. More specifically, he contacted UIC computer science PhD student and EVL research assistant Arthur Nishimoto to learn more about what he was doing.

Li was pleasantly surprised to learn that Nishimoto has, in his spare time, been adding lots of new features to his StarTrek Enterprise starship and is also developing a Star Wars game in the CAVE2™ Hybrid Reality Environment. Nishimoto’s actual research at EVL, under advisor Andy Johnson, CS associate professor and EVL director of research, focuses on user interaction techniques and application development.

Excerpts of the article appear below.

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Star Wars Death Star reborn in virtual reality at UIC
by Siying Li, with accompanying video by Chencheng Zhao Medill Reports Chicago
March 11, 2016

The original [Death Star] model, featured in the first Star Wars film, was built there at the University’s Electronic Visualization Laboratory. The iconic film from 1977 made its latest comeback in late 2015 with the release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” And so did a re-imagined Death Star, again created at UIC.

Arthur Nishimoto, a second-year computer science doctoral student and research associate at EVL, is a Star Wars fan. He worked in his spare time to bring back the Death Star with virtual reality technology.

“What’s cool about my Death Star simulation is that it’s built at the actual size of a moon virtually,” he said. “It’s not just making a model of the Death Star. It’s making a Death Star at full scale.” And you can walk inside this Death Star.

“I feel fortunate to have CAVE2 as an ultimate canvas to work on and view my artworks,” said Nishimoto, as he opened a door inside the Death Star with a computer-generated laser pointer.

“I’d like to think beyond the model - for example, I can make this ship fly around the Death Star like in any video game, but what if this is actually a real ship that we can apply real physics to?” Nishimoto said. “I always try to bring real science back into the fictional world.”

CAVE2 helps this happen, even for researchers besides computer scientists and video game designers.

Read the entire article.


Date: March 11, 2016

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