What's cooking in UMD's new lab? Virtual reality and motion capture

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There's not a beaker or Bunsen burner in sight at the University of Minnesota Duluth's newest laboratory. If Dr. Frankenstein stepped in, he might turn around and walk out again.

Then UMD students could analyze his every move, using the motion capture and digital video production contained in the university's new MMAD lab.

The lab's acronym stands for Motion and Media Across Disciplines. As FOX 21 reports, university officials think the facility combines technology, science, and art in a way that's unprecedented.

A ceremony at the university Friday marked the grand opening of the MMAD lab, although faculty and students have been using it for months.

Who uses the MMAD lab?

LilaAnn Coates White, who teaches dance in the university's theater department, tells the Duluth News Tribune she used the lab's motion capture technology to assess the movements of her ballet students earlier in the school year. They'll don the motion capture suit (right) and attach the sensors again before summer for a before-and-after comparison.

Lizzy Siemers, who will soon graduate with a degree in digital art and photography, tells the News Tribune her goal is to design video games. "This is the biggest and most exciting thing happening at our university right now," she says of the lab.

In a feature story about the MMAD lab on UMD's website, graduate assistant Logan Sales says pushing code all day as a computer science student often meant it was hard to visualize the projects he was working on. "This changed my perspective of what I can possibly do," Sales says.

University officials say the equipment at the lab is comparable to what's used by Hollywood movie studios.

As for the future, UMD says it wants the lab to be a place for emerging technologies and interdisciplinary learning. Who knows what these MMAD scientists will put together next?

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