New Center Launched
On Nov. 13, Rensselaer officially launched the new Center for Cognition, Communication, and Culture (CCC) at the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC).
Now one of the 10 Institute-wide research centers at Rensselaer, CCC will focus on the intersections and interdependency of cognition, communication, and culture in the context of contemporary research, technology, and society. The center’s interdisciplinary research activities will draw on the arts, design, engineering, humanities, science, and social sciences.
“The center will focus on virtual reality-based narrative and game playing, work on the design of next-generation synthetic intelligent characters, and on cross-modal scientific displays that take into account how humans integrate all their senses to explore and understand big data sets produced by the supercomputers.” —Jonas Braasch
“The Rensselaer Plan is bringing a continued expansion of interdisciplinary research, and the launch of the Rensselaer Center for Cognition, Communication, and Culture is an important milestone in support of that priority,” said President Shirley Ann Jackson. “This new center represents a new frontier of both research and pedagogy, and their intersection. The center will bring together researchers from such seemingly diverse arenas as the arts, computer science, cognitive science, and game design to forge new tools at the intersections of the cognitive, cyber, and physical worlds. By making it possible for us to interact with and manipulate vast quantities of data on a human scale, their work will help us to meet our social and technological challenges.”
The initial core research areas within CCC are: cross-modal displays—which seek to employ all human sense in understanding and exploring data; mixed reality—in which data overlaid on the real world enriches learning and research environments; and synthetic characters—computer programs intended to simulate an independent individual, according to Jonas Braasch, director of the new center.
“Through CCC we hope to tackle some of the emerging challenges and opportunities that life in our growing parallel digital universe has brought up,” said Braasch, also an associate professor of architecture. “Initially, the center will focus on virtual reality-based narrative and game playing to develop better ways to learn languages in a more natural and entertaining way, work on the design of next-generation synthetic intelligent characters that can interact with us and enrich our social life, and on cross-modal scientific displays that take into account how humans integrate all their senses to explore and understand big data sets produced by the supercomputers like CCNI, the Rensselaer supercomputing center.”
To support this work, CCC will host the new Emergent Reality Lab, a large-scale, room-sized advanced virtual reality system that combines high-resolution, stereoscopic projection and 3-D computer graphics to create a complete sense of presence in a virtual environment. The system is currently under construction in the Rensselaer Technology Park.
Following presentations from several faculty members, CCC hosted an open house of its facilities within EMPAC. The open house included additional demonstrations and poster presentations of student research internships held during the summer of 2012 with funding from the Office for Research.