New media students develop prototypes to help the next generation of workers

Fourth-year students’ capstone projects created for Xerox Corp.

Follow RITNEWS on Twitter

A. Sue Weisler

Mike Furst, Xerox Research Lab Manager, gets a demonstration of the Vision 2020/biome prototype from fourth-year new media interactive development major Allison Carnwath. Xerox researchers and scientists selected Vision 2020/biome as the first-place winner among the working prototypes developed by student teams.

What will the workplace look like in 2020?

Fourth-year new media majors at RIT, all future members of the workforce themselves, developed innovative prototypes to address that question.

As visitors make their way around the RIT campus today for the fourth annual Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival, they, too, can peer into the future by trying out some of the students working-prototypes.

Three-dimensional virtual reality, touchable interfaces and emotion-detection tools are just some of the tools the students developed for Xerox Corp. to address such issues as work fatigue, isolation and the increase in telecommuters. The teams of students will be giving demonstrations on the first floor of James E. Booth Hall, rooms 1400, 1420, 1440 and 1480, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during Imagine RIT.

As part of an ongoing research study at Xerox called Beyond The Office, 42 RIT fourth-year new media students were assigned to seven teams to address a number of trends, including remote collaboration, information overload, trust, globalization and environment sustainability. The teams, comprised of new media developers from RIT’s B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences and new media designers from RIT’s College of Imaging Arts and Sciences, spent 20 weeks brainstorming and designing their prototypes.

“If we want to create services and tools to help businesses improve the way they work, we thought it would be important to work with members of the future workforce,” says Tong Sun, principal scientist at the Xerox Research Center Webster and lead of the RIT Open Innovation project. “The students’ use of technology such as bio sensors and virtual tools to solve problems provided great insight into some of the issues we are studying.”

The seven student teams presented their concepts to Xerox scientists and engineers who selected the top three. The top three teams shared prize money totaling $10,000.

Vision2020/biome took top honors. The winning team is comprised of Sara Anthony (new media design and imaging/Webster, N.Y.), Allison Carnwath (new media interactive development/Williamson, N.Y.), Danny Gibas (new media design and imaging/Niagara Falls, N.Y.), Liz Jones (new media design and imaging/Ellicott City, Md.), J.R. Schmidt (new media design and imaging/Erie, Pa.) and Margaret Velez (new media interactive development/Fort Mill, S.C.).

Their concept converges real-time video and virtual reality to allow remote clients and employees to collaboratively work together by using virtual projections and controllable models.