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Microsoft issues $100,000 and two HoloLens kits to five different schools nationwide

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Back in July, Microsoft revealed a grant program for colleges and universities looking to take advantage of its forthcoming HoloLens augmented reality headset. Dubbed the Academic Research Request for Proposals, the grant promises $100,000 and two HoloLens development kits to five schools. In order to enter, schools would have to submit a 1 to 3 page proposal explaining why they should be selected for the grant.

And today, via the Windows Blog, Microsoft revealed the winners of the aforementioned proposal contest, preceded by a lengthy message of appreciation and enthusiasm for those who applied.

“The submissions exceeded our expectations, not only in volume but in the diversity of institutions and the quality of the proposals,” writes Technical Fellow Alex Kipman. “We were blown away to observe such creative, compelling and promising academic applications for HoloLens across art, medicine, visualization, education and more.”

As for the winners, their prestige isn’t quite surprising. Qualifying institutions range from the esteemed Carnegie Mellon University to the equally influential Virginia Tech. The award recipients are as follows:

  • Golan Levin, The Frank-Ratchye STUDIO, Carnegie Mellon University: Open-Source Investigations in Mixed Reality
  • Emily Cooper, Wojciech Jarosz, and Xing-Dong Yang, Dartmouth College: Augmenting Reality for the Visually Impaired with Microsoft HoloLens
  • Joseph Gabbard and Doug Bowman, Virginia Tech: Collaborative Analysis of Large-scale Mixed Reality Data
  • Andy Mingo, Tawny Schlieski, Nikki Dunsire, Shelley Midthun, J Bills, Clackamas Community College & Intel, HoloLens Curriculum for Trade-based Education
  • Allen Yang, Professor Claire Tomlin, and Shankar Sastry, University of California, Berkeley: Immersive Semi-Autonomous Aerial Command System (ISAACS)

Those who didn’t win, but came close, were also honored by Microsoft:

  • Lori C. Walters, Eileen Smith, Fran Blumberg, Robert Michlowitz, Alexia Mandeville, University of Central Florida: Memory Lens: A Dynamic Tool for Capturing Societal Memory
  • Wen Liu, The University of Kansas: Stroke Rehabilitation
  • Preeti Gupta, American Museum of Natural History: DinoLens: Seeing an Unseen Past
  • Pamela Jennings, Center for Design Innovation: CONSTRUKTS: Augmenting design processes with interactive holograms using the Microsoft HoloLens
  • Carol LaFayette and Frederic I. Parke, Texas A&M University: Extending the range of human senses: Ultraviolet and ultrasonic perception with Microsoft HoloLens

Lastly, Clackamas Community College actually detailed how it plans to put the money to use:

“The Clackamas Community College, Digital Media Communications Program (DMC) was awarded a $100,000 and two HoloLens developers kits via a research grant that will help create HoloLens-enabled Augmented Reality Development curriculum for students in the Clackamas County/ Portland area. Ultimately the grant will create a mixed reality platform and toolkit for trade-based distance learning via the HoloLens. Initially, we will be working with the CCC Automotive Department to create an engine repair lesson based in an augmented reality module.

And so, not only will HoloLens be integrated into the college’s existing curriculum, but augmented reality will enable a new generation of distance learning options. That’s pretty exciting stuff.

We’ll be keeping our eye on the development of the HoloLens platform. In the meantime, it’s great to see Microsoft funding the kind of basic research and development that will maximize the technology’s potential.”

HoloLens was announced this spring at Microsoft’s Build conference. There, the company showed off productivity uses, such as AR applications for architectural and medical studies. Since then, it’s largely been shown off for gaming, as with an impressive tabletop-optimized Minecraft demo.

For those of us unfortunately not seated in development positions, Microsoft has previously stated that HoloLens is on a “five-year-journey,” so don’t expect to be able to purchase one any time soon.

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