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James Oliver, Mechanical Engineering, (515) 294-2649
Annette Hacker, News Service, (515) 294-3720


AMES, Iowa -- A toy tank wheeling around the atrium will be steered by a driver in a virtual reality room. A wanderer wearing opaque glasses and a mini-cam will get a computer-augmented view of his surroundings. The first video game will be reprised, as dozens of visitors engage in a group-controlled game of Pong.

Some of the gadgetry of Iowa State's latest forays into computer technology will be on display in Howe Hall Thursday, Oct. 2, at an open house to celebrate the launch of a pioneering new program in human computer interaction. The public is invited to attend the HCI open house from noon to 1:30 p.m. in 1140 Howe Hall.

This emerging interdisciplinary program involves the study of the relationship between humans and their computers, which are becoming increasingly powerful, portable and plentiful.

Iowa State's Virtual Reality Applications Center, with its cutting edge work in virtual environments and new computer interfaces, gave Iowa State a head start on the emerging field of human computer interaction, said Jim Oliver, chair of the HCI graduate program. The HCI program got an additional boost when it was designated a top ISU academic initiative, with subsequent funding to add three new human computer interaction experts to the Iowa State faculty.

Recently, Iowa State became one of the first universities in the world to offer master's and doctorate programs in human computer interaction, Oliver said.

In addition to tours and technology demonstrations at the open house, the three new HCI faculty will be introduced, and ISU President Gregory Geoffroy will give brief remarks. At the end of the program, associate professor Carolina Cruz-Niera and her students will lead attendees in several interactive virtual reality games. Cruz-Niera, who also is associate director of the Virtual Reality Applications Center, encourages those at the event to bring their laser pointers to participate in the fun.


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Ames, Iowa 50011, (515) 294-4111
Published by: University Relations,
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