Stevens Institute of Technology Wins Grant to Build Interdisciplinary Motion Capture Laboratory

Facility Will Enhance Stevens’ Academic, Research and Extracurricular Enterprises

10/8/2012

Hoboken, N.J. – Stevens Institute of Technology’s College of Arts & Letters (CAL), has received a significant grant from the George I. Alden Trust to build a cutting-edge, interdisciplinary, markerless motion capture lab on campus.

“Markerless motion capture capabilities for content creation and motion analysis will greatly enhance academic, research and extracurricular activities at Stevens,” said Brian Moriarty, affiliate assistant professor of Visual Arts & Technology at Stevens. “Students will be able to pursue interdisciplinary interests that are not currently available, with diverse applications in animation, film, theater, medicine and athletics.”

The George I. Alden Trust, which provides philanthropic support to higher education institutions in the Mid-Atlantic and New England states, will contribute $50,000 toward equipment needed for the lab. With construction to begin this semester pending additional fundraising, it will be located on Stevens’ Hoboken, N.J. campus, mostly likely in the Morton-Pierce-Kidde Complex, and is expected to be completed and ready for use by spring 2013.

The Motion Capture Laboratory will feature Organic Motion OpenStage technology, with enables computers to track people’s complex movements and generate highly accurate 3D tracking data in real-time without body suits or tracking devices. The next-generation technology is used by many commercial production companies in the animation, video, gaming and visualization fields, as well as in the defense, security, life sciences, education and events industries.

“The Organic Motion technology is ideal for multi-discipline use, given its almost instantaneous preparation time and remarkable ease of use,” said Moriarty.

The lab will play a crucial role in redesigning Stevens’ current Visual Arts & Technology curriculum to further prepare students for careers in animation, game design and visualization. To be used in every Stevens video and animation course, it will enable students to gain hands-on experience using industry-standard equipment in motion capture technology and to develop and showcase their skills in all kinds of digital media.

“Stevens Visual Arts & Technology graduates will stand out to future employers because they will be up-to-date with current motion capture technology trends,” said Moriarty.

The lab will also be used extensively by Visual Arts & Technology research teams as they pursue work in creating interactive educational games for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) students, and developing revolutionary teaching methods for Stevens professors.

Other CAL programs which will benefit from the lab include Music & Technology and Theater & Technology. Music & Technology students will use the lab to integrate audio components with complex visuals, particularly through Stevens’ Alternative Controller Ensemble, where students build their own instruments. The Theater & Technology program will take advantage of the technology by developing courses designed to teach students to utilize cinematic techniques on stage and introduce other innovative performance methods which blend the virtual and physical worlds.

“There is a new momentum in musical performance and creation incorporating interactivity between the performers on stage and sometimes including the audience,” said Rob Harari, industry professor of Music & Technology at Stevens. “Different sensor technologies are being incorporated on a variety of levels in acoustic and electronic music. The Motion Capture Laboratory will provide Music & Technology students the ability to research emerging techniques in sensor technology and software coding as it relates to musical and acoustical applications.”

Outside of CAL, Biomedical Engineering students and researchers in Stevens’ Charles V. Schaefer School of Engineering and Science will also gain value from the lab. Students will apply material covered in Biomechanics courses to perform real time motion analysis, while researchers will integrate the technology into biological performance and gait analysis research.

The lab will also be integrated into the activities of extracurricular programs, such as Performing Arts and Athletics. Various groups on campus will put the technology to use in student run and community performances, as well as in the production of short films and dance routines featuring virtual performers. The Stevens Department of Athletics will use the lab to enhance video performance and injury analysis of athletes, improve the Physical Education curricula, and collaborate on the development of sports medicine courses within the Biomedical Engineering department.

“We expect the Motion Capture Laboratory to be an essential, interdisciplinary teaching and research tool and a great source of inspiration for all of Stevens’ aspiring engineers, visual artists, scientists and athletes students, researchers and faculty,” said CAL Dean Lisa Dolling.

About Stevens Institute of Technology

Founded in 1870, Stevens Institute of Technology, The Innovation University™, lives at the intersection of industry, academics and research.  The University's students, faculty and partners leverage their collective real-world experience and culture of innovation, research and entrepreneurship to confront global challenges in engineering, science, systems and technology management.

Based in Hoboken, N.J. and with a location in Washington, D.C., Stevens offers baccalaureate, master’s, certificates and doctoral degrees in engineering, the sciences and management, in addition to baccalaureate degrees in business and liberal arts.  Stevens has been recognized by both the US Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security as a National Center of Excellence in the areas of systems engineering and port security research. The University has a total enrollment of more than 2,400 undergraduate and 3,700 graduate students with more than 350 faculty. Stevens’ graduate programs have attracted international participation from China, India, Southeast Asia, Europe and Latin America as well as strategic partnerships with industry leaders, governments and other universities around the world.  Additional information may be obtained at www.stevens.edu and www.stevens.edu/news.