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Nyu Is Building a Real-Life Holodeck

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Star Trek's holodeck.

New York University will lead an inter-university effort to develop an immersive virtual reality experience.

Credit: Aatrek/Memory Alpha

New York University (NYU) recently received a $2.9-million U.S. National Science Foundation grant to develop an immersive virtual reality experience in which participants can freely interact with their surroundings.

NYU is partnering with 18 other universities, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkeley, as well as private companies, to develop the real-life version of the holodeck from "Star Trek." The researchers expect an initial prototype will be developed by the end of next year.

The NYU Holodeck project is a combination of many technologies, including virtual and augmented reality, wearable devices, brain-computing interaction, three-dimensional printing, robots, advanced sound systems, and game controllers, with IBM's Watson underpinning the whole system.

The NYU Holodeck's platform will be distributed among several institutions, which will enable the system to become "smarter" by having more simulations and scenarios to draw upon as it undergoes testing. In addition, universities and other organizations will be able to collaborate more efficiently by using the same shared resource.

"We very much believe in this as a large-scale open innovation endeavor," says Winslow Burleson with the NYU-X Lab. "We hope it will pave the way for many other Holodeck nodes to be built."

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