World Virtual Reality Conference comes to Ames

Sarah Binder

Virtual reality professionals from industry and academia are gathering Wednesday through Friday in Ames for the 2010 World Conference on Innovative Virtual Reality.

“It highlights the tremendous facilities we have here,” said Judy Vance, professor of mechanical engineering and WINVR co-chairwoman. The conference only comes to the United States every other year.

Vance said that the C6, the ISU virtual reality simulator in Howe Hall, is “nearly one of a kind” because of its high resolution and six-sided design.

Iowa State also has a strong interdisciplinary approach to virtual reality. For example, researchers in psychology use virtual reality to stimulate experiences in a controlled environment.

Iowa State also has a graduate program in human computer interactions.

Vance said this combination leads to “cutting edge research in virtual reality.”

The conference, hosted by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, will cover topics such as virtual reality education, case studies from the industry and mobile virtual reality.

“It’s about using virtual reality to solve problems,” Vance said.

Virtual reality also has increasing potential in the commercial market, with trends such as the Wii system. This technology has been in virtual reality centers for years, but is starting to come down in price.

“The public is more accepting of virtual reality because they already have it in their living rooms,” said Vance.

Cost to attend the conference range from $150 to $645, which Vance said is typical of ASME conferences.

However, the ISU Virtual Reality Applications Center is also organizing a free networking event for professional and amateur technology enthusiasts Thursday night.

The workshop, Ignite Ames, will feature hands-on activities such as a “Design Jam,” as well as networking. Registration at is required.