Virtual and Augmented Reality Lab | NC State ISE

Welcome to the Virtual and Augmented Reality Lab

The Virtual and Augmented Reality Lab (VARL) is led by Dr. Karen Chen in the Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. Dr. Chen is also a 2021 alumna of the E.U.-U.S. Frontiers of Engineering of the National Academy of Engineering.

As the Principal Investigator (PI) of an award ($1.3M, 2021-2024) funded by the National Science Foundation, Dr. Chen’s latest research leverages immersive virtual reality to support students’ understanding of scale and number sense (numeracy). Learners can use their own body to gauge against the sizes of the scientific entities displayed in a Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE). Learners can also “grow” or “shrink” as they scale up or down based powers of ten (10x). The video below shows the shrinking experience where a learner goes from the size of an asteroid to the size of a coronavirus.

Read more about this research in Projects or featured College of Engineering page.

About Virtual and Augmented Reality Laboratory

Virtual reality, or VR, is a computer-generated graphical space that allows users to experience various environments. Users can travel to the medieval era and then teleport to a fictional village. Mixed reality, or MR, is where computer-generated graphics superimpose with the physical environment. Mixed reality includes augmented reality (AR). In other words, the objects seen in the real-world are now “augmented” with more information provided by MR / AR technology.

We have a four-sided (C4) Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE) with full-body tracking capability, several head-mounted displays (HMDs), and a head-up display (HUD). There are other peripheral devices that support movement tracking.

We are particularly interested in studying the interactions between humans and VR/AR. We want to know how users perceive and behave in VR and AR, and how they are different from the real world (aka physical environment). We also explore the potentials in VR/AR for various real-world applications.

We invite you to discover more about our Projects, People, Outreach, and Publications!

Watch Virtual Reality Team on The CW22

Dr. Karen Chen and her research team (Tyler Rose, Rebecca Ellis, and Ken Chen) talk with The CW22’s Bill LuMaye about their virtual and augmented reality research and the VR/AR Lab.

Students Ken Chen and Tyler Rose discuss virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) and their differences

Professor Karen Chen and student Rebecca Ellis discuss how they are using VR/AR in their research

Karen Chen takes viewers on a tour of her VR/AR laboratory