ICAT spends Halloween in the Emerald City for Tech or Treat event

>October 30, 2014

ICAT spends Halloween in the Emerald City for Tech or Treat event

ICAT spends Halloween in the Emerald City for Tech or Treat eventICAT spends Halloween in the Emerald City for Tech or Treat event

Children, families and students alike were treated to a technological recreation of the Land of Oz Wednesday evening when the Institute for Creativity, Arts and Technology (ICAT) rolled out the yellow brick road for their third annual Tech or Treat event.

The Moss Arts Center housed the function, using spaces in the building such as the Grand Lobby, its classrooms and The Cube.

Upon entering the Center, guests were met with festive lighting, decorations and a large gathering of people and families gravitating toward the various displays.

Within an hour of its doors opening, Tech or Treat accumulated over 500 attendees. During the event, ICAT Director Benjamin Knapp predicted that the final attendance for the night would far exceed last year’s count of 800.

Tech or Treat housed stations featuring technology ICAT had been working on since March. This included Scary Faces, which used 3-D projection mapping on head-shaped canvases to create nightmare creatures, augmented reality-produced flying monkeys and an appearance by the DARwIn OP, a robot designed for the RoboCup soccer competition.

“Every installation that’s in here is also, in itself, an output of a research project, part of a research project or in some way related to research that students and faculty are doing,” Knapp said.

The largest scale activity at Tech or Treat was Over the Rainbow, a 3-D virtual reality recreation of the 2013 Moore Tornado in Oklahoma, which was created with data collected by storm chasers.

Over the Rainbow took place in The Cube, which Associate for Outreach and Engagement Phyllis Newbill calls a “completely unique space.”

“(The Cube) allows for data visualization in ways that we weren’t able to do before, that no one was able to do,” Newbill said.

The Over the Rainbow demonstration involved four volunteers taking turns with an Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset. The volunteers would then receive an up-close look at the tornado with an overlaid weather radar.

Other audience members saw the Oculus’ feed on a large screen, while Tech or Treat workers walked around with motion tracking tablets that acted as windows to the virtual world. The virtual tornado was accompanied by actual storm audio, presented in surround sound that would put any home theater to shame.

This particular installation even inspired the emerald theme of Tech or Treat itself.

“ICAT is funding the first set of research projects this year using (The Cube)," Knapp said. "We looked at those, and it was like, ‘Wow, the tornado would be a really neat thing if we can (use it).’”

Other attractions included L2ORK (The Linux Laptop Orchestra), a software-inspired music room called Rhythm and Boo, and the Oz Vendor, a station utilizing 3-D printing to give children one of the gifts of Oz, among others.

During Tech or Treat, ICAT members were keeping count of those in attendance and are already beginning to prepare for next year’s event.

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