Future Friday features 3-D scanning and printing

The iSchool's NEXIS lab highlighted emerging technologies, including Google Glass, a virtual reality headset and even three-dimensional models.

Many of today's college students likely first experienced 3-D at a young age – whether it was at a movie theater with flimsy paper glasses or even a realistic 3-D attraction at a theme park like Disney World. Years later, 3-D technology is among the most talked about emerging technologies. And for students at Syracuse University, it is readily available on campus.

Last Friday, the School of Information Studies' (iSchool) New Explorations in Information and Science (NEXIS) lab hosted Future Friday, a monthly event where students involved with the lab demonstrate their latest projects focused on emerging technologies. Projects on display included data visualizations, Google Glass, immersive video games, drones and touchless interfaces.

“Future Friday is an open house event that is meant for students to come and see what's here, see if they might want to get involved, and really just show off these technologies that you might not get to see in most spaces,” said Anthony Rotolo, assistant professor of practice at the iSchool and head of the NEXIS lab.

With the presence of Syracuse University alumnus and co-author of The Book on 3D Printing Isaac Budmen, the focus of this month's event was 3-D scanning and printing. At the event, Budmen and NEXIS crew members created “Busties,” or 3-D printed models of the person's head, for visitors. To create a Bustie, a 3-D scan is taken of a subject's head and later replicated with a 3-D printer.

Throughout the afternoon, drones whirled through the hallway, students went “skydiving” with the aid of the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset, and visitors got the chance to test out Google Glass. In other corners of the room, guests danced around a touchless interface display, took in a visualization of NCAA basketball stats and played a video game using a 3-D printed controller. According to Rotolo, over one hundred people registered online for Busties, and among those scanned were guests of honor Chancellor Kent Syverud and Otto the Orange.

“Otto's the first college mascot to ever be 3-D scanned – one of the very first people in the world, really. And with this scan we have a lot of possibilities for different items that can be made in Otto's likeness,” Rotolo said.

Billy Ceskavich, an information management and technology and political science senior and student in NEXIS Class, said the most interesting thing about 3-D printing is its potential. “I would compare 3-D printing right now to the way photography was at the beginning of the 1900s. To do a scan right now, it's about 30 seconds that you can't move,” he explained. “So it's like those pictures from the 1900s where it took a whole minute to take, so everybody's all serious and still.” Ceskavich said that in the future, the printers could influence everything from manufacturing to the way we interact as consumers with technology.

As for the Oculus Rift headset, sophomore Arland Whitfield explained that even though the headset makes for a great game, in the future, it can also be used in a media setting. “For journalism, you can take the reader right to the scene,” Whitfield said. “So if something happens overseas, you can show the reader exactly what's happening and how it feels to be there.”

Whitfield said drones will also be used by the media. In his club, Skyworks Project, students and faculty from all around campus work together to explore what's possible with drone technology. “We work a lot with standard audio and video production,” he said, meaning that video and audio equipment are attached to the drones. “We've flown them in Manley Field House, and are working on flying them in the Dome. That's a dream of ours – to film the football team or basketball team. Get those impossible shots.”

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