ICAT projects are funded to artists, designers, engineers, and scientists who come together in a living laboratory that fosters creativity and promotes critical reflection. Learn more about ICAT funding opportunities

Visualizing Acid-Base Chemistry for Environmental Scientists and Engineers

Our novel project created a technology-enhanced software tool that explores acid-conjugate base distributions. Students using the software visualize variations in concentration of acid/base species as the pH changes. The visualization presents an image that boosts understanding of complex chemical concept that is widely used in the basic and applied sciences and engineering. Our specific product calculates ionization fractions, also called alpha values, which are a powerful tool. Ionization fractions are often underutilized because the fractions have to be individually calculated using complex algebraic equations. Currently no online calculator exists available through the internet.

Wireless Psychophysiological Recording in the Augmented Reality Environment

Our team has concluded the project, Wireless Psychophysiological Recording in the Augmented Reality Environment, with the presentation of our work at the ICAT Creativity + Innovation Day on May 6. This work exhibited the final creative development of the Immersive Storytelling Team (IST), informed by psychophysiological research from the Mind-Body Lab (MBL), and enhanced into a Virtual Reality (VR) environment by the Virtual Environments Team (VET) in computer science. The following is the final report for the project supported by ICAT’s Student SEAD grant for Spring 2019.

Dancing Motion of Bubbles and Cells

This project will investigate a novel method for sorting cells with acoustic waves and through creative dance movement. The investigation will be started by looking at the motion of bubbles in a channel and will be translated to cell motions for further understanding of the phenomena. This method can be a game changer in diagnostic and treatment of cancer where the dancing motion of cancer cells will be analyzed. Design, fabrication and operation of acoustic microfluidic cell sorter will be done by leveraging the expertise in Biomedical Engineering and Art.

Development of PrepLab, an Open Educational Resource Repository

As graduate students at Virginia Tech, we have the unique position of holding roles of both students and instructor simultaneously. Graduate students are often given the responsibility of teaching their own course without sufficient resources to plan one of their first teaching experiences. This Virginia Tech Graduate Academy for Teaching Excellence (VTGrATE) project draws from the areas of technology, computer science, and education to create the PrepLab, a curated open educational resource repository.

Live Action VR – Integrating Live Actors into Virtual Reality Experiences in Real Time

Our project aims to seamlessly blend real-time stereoscopic video capture of a live actor into a synthetic virtual environment and to build an interactive, branched narrative in which a live participant (AKA audience member) can engage and navigate towards different endings based on his or her story choices. To achieve this goal, we built a diverse team of faculty and students from various disciplines including Computer Science, Cinema, and Visual Arts. Our process has considered the limitations and opportunities of each of these areas, with the goal of creating an experience that significantly advances the possibilities of virtual reality.

FamilySong: Prototyping and Implementing Devices for Remote Family Connection

Struggling to connect at a distance, families separated by migration devise ways to establish simple ways of communication between grandparents and their very young grandchildren. The grandchildren are sometimes pre-verbal. With FamilySong, we propose the creation of a shared-experience of listening to music, as a means of maintaining connection without disturbing other home activities.

Afrofuturism to Vibranium and Beyond

Afrofuturism 2.0 is defined by Reynaldo Anderson as, “The early twenty-first century technogenesis of Black identity reflecting counter histories, hacking and or appropriating the influence of network software, database logic, cultural analytics, deep remixability, neurosciences, enhancement and augmentation, gender fluidity, posthuman possibility, the speculative sphere with transdisciplinary applications and has grown into an important Diasporic techno-cultural Pan African movement.”

Scanning Driven Designs

Various critical healthcare technologies and problems require the need for interfacing materials with biology. Specifically, the challenge of designing and manufacturing multi-functional form-fitting interfaces with biology is a current barrier for developing next-generation ‘smart’ biomedical devices, such as those with personalized, bio-inspired, and bionic interfaces. This challenge is rooted in the fundamental difference between the geometry of engineered and biological systems. For example, while engineered systems are typically defined by ‘geometric’ shapes (e.g., triangles or circles), biology is composed of irregular ‘organic’ shapes that are associated with the natural world. Thus, solutions to this problem requires holistic collaboration between engineers and designers.

Memory Bank

The goal of Memory Bank is to use the tools of neuroscientific research to collect, understand and visually communicate data about the experience of emotional memory. The project will generate a platform whereby both drawings of specific memories and corresponding brain activity are transformed into animated data visualization through a large-scale, interactive installation, allowing individuals to connect through science, experience and art. For example, when a Phase 2 viewer wearing an EEG headset chooses a specific animation they may find that the gamma waves they emit in response to representations of love, excitement or nostalgia are similar to other viewers’ experiences. In this way, we will use both scientific data and artistic production to point out similarities in human experience.

Body, Full of Time

This performance integrates inertial motion capture technology with custom software to freeze, record, and playback portions of a controlled avatar linked to the movement performer. In this way, the choreography is “re-coded” in digital space so that two simultaneous performances are happening: the movements of the live body alongside the “digital choreography” of the avatar and animations. This is a work that draws together the visual languages of dance, choreography, visual art, 3D and 2D animation techniques, and contemporary digital aesthetics.

Subterranean Reflections And The Futuristic Cave

At the pace of under-earthly light, our processes are sprawling through dark hollow subterranean arms. Our vision encompasses a series of installations (sculptural constellations) and interpretative performances within Tawney’s palatial rooms, and reaches toward a digital and physical ‘Future Cave’ through sculptural installation and immersive projections in ICAT’s ‘Cube Studio’ in Spring of 2019.


The MAD COOL Show brought together new music, new choreography, and laser lights in The Cube at the Moss Arts Center. The challenge for musicians was to submit music for a dance show. The challenge for the dancers was to choreograph this music. The challenge for the lighting system was to be compact and mobile so that it may easily travel to facilitate events.

Voided Space

Virginia Tech has been selected as a finalist in the 2018 SOFA CONNECT program exhibit in Chicago. The architecture students will be building an installation within the 24’ x 24’ space allotted at the art fair with funds provided by the event. Our team is pursuing to augment the installation through the use of a custom fabricated LED lighting system that reacts to the participants’ movement through space.

Pulling at the Heartstrings

This collaboration will utilize high-throughput imaging capabilities developed by Drs. Brown and Nain. Together we have established a framework to collect a significant amount of data on cells that are moving along engineered fibers and generating measurable forces as they tug on fibers. These videos allow us to monitor the behavior of cells under different conditions. We have established a method to induce a “heart attack in a dish”, where we can modulate the cellular environment on the microscope and expose cells to conditions that mimic what happens in a heart attack.

Willie Cole Bottle Project

Willie Cole is a noted contemporary American sculptor, printer, and conceptual and visual artist. Willie Cole will work with students during a one week residency, September 17-21, to construct two buildings out of recycled water bottles in front of the Media Building during Sustainability week. The group is working with Facilities and the VT Sustainability Office to make the project a highlight of the University’s efforts for Sustainability Week. Partners include CAUS and its constituent Schools, the Black Cultural Center, Facilities, among others.

Sea Ice Saga

As a part of our project, we will conduct a number of field-based collaboration, production, and VT-based remote collaboration and post-production activities. In Iceland, we will undertake the following fieldwork over the span of at least two (possibly three) visits: video and audio recordings of interviews, documentation of activities on Icelandic fishing boats and research vessel biomass and sea ice survey data, video at coastal village centers, at the Sea Ice Archive, at farms, at fish processing facilities with fishermen, in fishing net-making and net-repair shops, and in textiles studios.

Can training methods from the Performing Arts be used to prevent falls and fall-related injuries

In later life, physical changes to our body make it more difficult to maintain mobility and independence. For example, adults over the age of 65 commonly experience a loss of strength, along with impaired balance and gait. These changes lead to an increased risk of falling and fall-related injuries. In fact, falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among adults 65 and older (older adults) (1). An estimated 29 million falls among older adults occur annually in the United Stated (2), with Medicare costs exceeding $30 billion (3). Falls and fall-related injuries remain a major problem despite substantial and widespread efforts to reduce their occurrence. New exercises or training methods are thus needed to help reduce these falls and injuries.

SAFE – Strategies to Avoid Fall among Elderly

AI and Machine learning theories should be challenged to find answers to some of the most serious problems we face today. If Amazon/netflix can recommend me the movie or show I want to watch and the clothes that will look good on me, why can’t we use the same technology for envisioning better healthcare for elderly, or better safety for our kids in schools, or helping humans to not repeat the same dumb mistakes over and over again

Developing SmartSense: A Robotic Platform for High Throughput Phenotyping and Genome Wide Association Analysis

We will develop innovative robotic technology which can collect phenotypic data from the field. Computer vision and machine learning algorithms will be developed to recognize flowers, pods, leaves and weeds from images collected. Genomic data and statistical analysis will be performed to identify key genetic variations that associated with these desirable traits.

Exploring Visual Modalities for User Experiences in Smart-Built Environments: FutureHAUS Case Study

The FutureHAUS testbed provides a unique, holistic SBE where people can interact with the SBE in a multi-modal way. FutureHAUS is an exemplar for the integration of architectural best practices, usability principles and healthy living guidelines in support of user experience. For every function/service/device there are multiple interaction options (touch, gesture, voice, etc.).

Visual Language of Chromatin Architecture

It is now well recognized that three-dimensional (3D) organization of the genome (chromatin) plays an important role in key cellular processes such as DNA replication, repair, transcription, and epigenetic inheritance, i.e., inheritance that is not encoded by the DNA sequence. Abnormalities in the 3D genome architecture have been associated with a number of pathologies including various cancers.

Transdisciplinary Collaboration to Visually Map Government Policies to Restrict the Marketing of Unhealthy Food and Beverage Products to Children

The globalization of the food supply has fostered the widespread transnational marketing of highly processed food and beverage products high in fat, added sugars, and salt (HFSS) to young people worldwide. We conducted a scoping review 7 of published scientific peer-reviewed evidence and gray literature for voluntary and mandatory government policies related to food and beverage marketing to children in 13 countries from the Americas region.

Resonance on the Walls II

Volume of a Cube is a performance for 18+ percussionists in a multi-level structure with surround sound spatial audio and live video projection. Written by Boston composer and percussionist Drew Worden, it was commissioned by Virginia Tech in 2017 for their multi-level research facility: the Cube.


Starting June 9, 2017, composer and violinist Charles Nichols, video artist and programmer Zach Duer, architect Jon Rugh, and guitarist and composer André Foisy met on Virginia Tech campus, with banjoist and composer Holland Hopson joining telematically from the University of Alabama.

Deciphering the Secrets of Musical Intelligence: Big Data Analysis Techniques and End-User Tools for Music Score

Musicians possess a wealth of knowledge, accumulated over the years of practice and experience of playing and studying music. For example, music educators are well aware of the characteristics of musical pieces that would make suitable repertoire for a given student.

Source Form

SourceForm is a porthole through which the immense breadth and growth of the collective internet image database will be translated to its own contributors: the public.This stand alone device is capable of collecting crowdsourced images of a user defined object, stitching together available visual data (e.g. photos tagged with search term) through photogrammetry, orienting and 3D printing a physical form without human intervention.

smART Field

The research efforts associated with smART field focus on developing a solution that integrates luminous materials into an all weather and ADA compliant solution to paths on the Drillfield in order to enhance the integrity of the Drillfield as a “green room” at the center of the Virginia Tech campus.

REAL Pedagogy

This presentation features a research and outreach project that focuses on the creation of a teacher professional development model that employs theatre arts techniques to engage high school students in STEM learning.

Fusality for Stream and Field

Researchers supported by the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology are developing an interactive 3D environment that will bring together data from multiple research locations, including water quality data, to produce more comprehensive models and analytics for community ecosystem monitoring, targeting ongoing research activities at Stroubles Creek and the Catawba Sustainability Center.

Kinesthetic Field

Kinesthetic Field is a full-body, kinesthetic approach to revealing electromagnetic fields. It is a concept for a public installation that allows people in separate locations to physically interact with each other through direct manipulation of dynamic sculptures. The installation consists of two or more nodes connected by a wireless electronic network.

Advancing Transportation Infrastructure 3D Image-Based Reconstruction with Application to Bridge Deck Crack Mapping and Inspection

The project merges a recently acquired 3D image-based reconstruction platform in the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) department (called OJOS) with virtual reality and rendering capabilities in the Virginia Tech School of Visual Arts.

The Orb

The Orb is a data visualization showcasing research projects associated with the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT) at Virginia Tech.

Mirror Worlds

Like very few other infrastructure projects, "Mirror Worlds" has the potential to connect people around the world (researchers, educators, students, and the general public) to computational research on human behavior, interaction, and understanding.

Puppy Project

The planned project is to employ safe, noninvasive motion capture and 3D visualization tools to study canine puppy socialization behaviors in a newly developed portable motion capture unit.