Monday, 11 May 2015 23:53

A sense of the new with Monash sensiLab opening

By
Monash University namesake Sir John Monash Monash University namesake Sir John Monash

Monash University is to open a new-concept hub this week which it says is designed to tackle the research challenges of the internet age.

Connecting information technology and engineering to creative and business expertise, the new sensisLab at the Monash campus in the Melbourne suburb of Caulfield, will bring together researchers from the faculties of IT, Engineering, Art, Design & Architecture and the Monash Business School.

SensiLab will be launched on Wednesday (13 May) by the Victorian State Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade, Adem Somyurek.

SensiLab director, Professor Jon McCormack, said the new lab was packed with all kinds of new technologies from humanoid robots to 3D printers, with the concept based on creative innovation through knowledge sharing, exemplified by emerging innovation spaces such as hacklabs and makerspaces.

The lab’s focus is the intersection of new developments in visualisation, interaction and digital fabrication and its name refers to the idea of engaging all the senses.

Professor McCormack said seniLab welcomed researchers from any discipline to initiate disruptive change, “rather than simply react to it”.

“The immediate, connected and open nature of the internet means that ideas propagate more quickly and more broadly than ever before.

“New knowledge is being generated faster than any time in human history. Universities must acknowledge that many traditional avenues of research have been bypassed by technology and the accelerated cultural change that it drives.”
Professor McCormack said that from media to manufacturing, disruptive technology continues to challenge long-established businesses and institutions, even the nature of work itself.

“Australia must embrace these changes by adapting its research culture over the next decade.

“It’s here that sensiLab aims to drive creativity and innovation in IT by connecting designers, artists, engineers, computing experts and business entrepreneurs to create the technological breakthroughs necessary for a successful economy.

“We want to bring a sense of empathy and play to the design and application of technology to build really engaging experiences,” Professor McCormack said.

“With sensiLab we have the ability to rapidly prototype the technology of the future, from wearables, Internet of Things and machine-to-machine technologies to new virtual reality systems and haptic devices.”

Some of the projects on display at the lab’s opening this Wednesday include:

•    A new haptic ring that allows blind and vision-impaired people to feel graphics and diagrams on mobile devices such as phones and tablets

•    ‘ContextUWall’, a collaborative interactive display system that connects touch tables, tablets and high resolution display systems such as Monash’s CAVE2 environment to allow researchers to collaboratively explore complex data

•    Interactive virtual reality displays that recreate the ancient metropolis of Angkor Wat in Cambodia

•    Audio-enhanced 3D maps that allow people with a vision impairment to navigate in public spaces

•    Simple haptic techniques for low-cost virtual reality such as the Oculus Rift that add to the sense of presence by mirroring physical and virtual objects in space

•    An interactive sandpit that brings a new virtual dimension to playing with sand.

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