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NMSU professors demonstrated functions of the Addison Care Virtual Reality lab

Nathan J. Fish, Las Cruces Sun-News
Published 3:43 p.m. MT Oct. 3, 2019

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Tony Dohrmann, CEO of Electronic Caregiver. speaks about new NMSU virtual reality lab
Nathan J. Fish, Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES – New Mexico State University professors on Wednesday demonstrated the functions of the Addison Care Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality Lab, a new virtual reality lab on campus.

The lab was built with a gift of more than $350,000 to NMSU from Las Cruces-based tech company Electronic Caregiver, which developed the Addison Care technology, a virtual caregiver.

Professors and students will use the lab to conduct aging and functional lifespan research, along with research of visual search scenarios and motor performance environments, using augmented and virtual reality.

“Today was the dedication of the new augmented and virtual reality laboratory that we installed at New Mexico State University,” Tony Dohrmann, CEO of Electronic Caregiver, said Wednesday. “It is providing cutting-edge tools and educational opportunities for incoming students. I think that people are going to be surprised by how it expands. This lab is going to expand — we are going to invest further in it and I just think that when we look forward to how people are going to be educated in the future, (and) people having different ways of learning,”

Dohrmann said that NMSU has been instrumental in the building of his company and this new technology here in Las Cruces.

Michael Hout, a professor at NMSU and one of the lab’s co-directors, said the future applications for this technology will bring innovation to NMSU. 

“Having the technology at NMSU is going to allow us to do things that few other laboratories in the country or abroad are able to do,” Hout said. “We’re going to be able to do research in this lab that is just absolutely innovative but difficult to do, so it’s a game-changer for us.”

Hout said NMSU students are heavily involved in the laboratory.

“Currently, we have one graduate student from computer science and two undergraduate students in creative media that are taking part in the lab and helping us with the equipment and helping us with creating the environments,” he said.

Dohrmann said he looks forward to the future application that this laboratory can develop with the help of NMSU.

“We’re providing a technology with NMSU that impacts all the senses and creates such an immersive and exciting and riveting experience,” he said. “I think it’s going to transform education and I think it’s going to do it in our community, and it’s going to do it in our nation. I think that the technologies we’re creating are going to impact the world.”

Among the research that will be conducted at the lab are studies on slips and falls, search and rescue behaviors, rehabilitation scenarios and voice interaction in rehabilitation, visual search and aging, according to a university news release.

Virtual reality scenarios include a home environment that contains several items that present falls risk to older adults, such as cords, rugs, spills, gardening tools and a moving cat; a virtual vacation scenario to reduce environmental stress and discomfort; and a visual search scenario featuring a virtual replica of the courtyard of Regents Row, a former dormitory building on the NMSU campus.

Nathan J. Fish can be reached at 575-541-5445, nathan.fish@gannett.com or @photojfish on Twitter.

More: NMSU, the state and the oil and gas industry are teaming up to solve wastewater issues

More: Movers and Shakers 2019: Tony Dohrmann has ambitious plans for tech company

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