Virtual reality innovator Cruz-Neira demonstrates how VR is changing the world
January 29 - February 4, 2018
By Angelita Faller
Dr. Carolina Cruz-Neira, director of the Emerging Analytics Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, demonstrated how innovative virtual reality technology is changing the world for the better at Dell’s Jan. 10 VR for Good event at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The VR for Good panel featured Dell partners and innovators who are using virtual reality to make a positive impact on society.
Cruz-Neira demonstrated the Anatomic Eyes Project, an interactive cadaver dissection where users can dissect a life-size cadaver using simple pinch gestures. The technology has the capability to greatly transform medical education and research.
“I talked about the fact that VR is much more than just helmets, and that we need to look at the technology based on the role or tasks users need to accomplish,” she said. “Different roles and tasks may require different devices. Also, I spoke about social VR, which is the ability of having multiple people share a virtual experience without having separate devices.”
The other panelists included Dr. Skip Rizzo, director of medical virtual reality at the Institute for Creative Technologies at the University of Southern California, who demonstrated a VR program that can help treat soldiers with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Mike Libecki, a National Geographic explorer with a new VR series documenting his adventures while promoting environmental awareness and climate change.
Cruz-Neira, world-renowned inventor of the CAVE virtual environment, leads UA Little Rock’s Emerging Analytics Center for faculty, researchers, and students exploring advanced applications of virtual reality, mixed reality, and visualization.
She uses CAVE for applications to advance business, but also to promote computer science work and research in education, including computer science programs in public schools. In September and October 2017, the Emerging Analytics Center participated in the TechStart Partnership between Facebook and the state of Arkansas to generate student interest in computer science education and careers.
Cruz-Neira, recently named the interim chair of UA Little Rock’s computer science department, has been recognized as one of the top 25 virtual reality innovators by the gaming website Polygon as well as one of the three greatest female innovators in virtual reality by University Herald.