Immerse Yourself in the Media of the Future
The SOJC’s Oregon Reality (OR) Lab is a multidisciplinary teaching and research facility dedicated to exploring, understanding and building immersive media as an ethical tool for communication innovation. Its mission is to serve as a bridge between the academy, industry and the community to develop and test the effects of virtual, augmented, and extended realities and their capacity to help solve social, environmental, and business problems.
Launched in January 2018 by the School of Journalism and Communication at UO Portland, the Oregon Reality (OR) Lab is a testing ground where students, faculty researchers and Portland community members can use and develop virtual-, augmented- and mixed-reality media to solve social and business problems.
The OR Lab is outfitted with the latest in immersive reality technology. It houses a full classroom of production equipment where students can create 3D models, virtual worlds, 360-degree videos, photogrammetry and more using state-of-the-art software. “There is magic in this space that can transport you to another place and experience,” said Donna Davis, director of the OR Lab and the strategic communication master's program.
Davis has spent more than a decade researching social virtual media, particularly in the virtual world Second Life. Her research on embodied experience and identity in virtual reality among people with disabilities was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. She is now expanding her research to study the ethical implications of immersive media.
Strategic Communication Master's student Ann Powers helping a classmate in Building for Immersive.
OR Lab's Co-Director Dr. Donna Davis leads a class on social virtual reality in the Oregon Reality Lab.
“As communicators and educators, we've got to inspire our students and engage industry to think about how to ethically use these technologies to tell our stories, build communities and create relationships in them,” Davis said. “If we don’t, this emerging technology could evolve without a conscience.”
Students have been taking classes in the lab such as Introduction to Social Virtual Reality, Building for Immersive, Photogrammetry, and UI/UX, in addition to the faculty research that is conducted in the space. Students in other programs are also taking advantage. Recent graduate Fnan Berhe centered her strategic communication master’s thesis, “Building Experiences with XR Technology: A Guide for Storytellers of Today,” on how virtual reality will change the communication industry. Berhe said her time at UO helped her get ahead of the trends, and she believes the OR Lab is vital to helping future cohorts do the same.
Doctoral students are using the lab for classwork and research. Research topics are as varied as 3D reconstruction, character animation and accessibility issues in virtual reality. Media studies master’s graduate Spencer Bennett focused his 2018 thesis on the benefits of virtual reality meditation.
Undergrads in the School of Journalism and Communication are able to pursue similar immersive media projects and research in the school's Immersive Media Lab (IML) in Eugene, which works in collaboration with the OR Lab. Cross-listed course offerings allow undergraduate and doctoral students, to take classes offered in the OR Lab virtually, by attending via the IML.
The OR Lab shares common purpose and works in collaboration with the Immersive Media Lab (Experience Hub) and the Price Science Library's RAVE lab in Eugene.
The Immersive Media Lab (IML) is a Eugene campus-based media creation lab run by the School of Journalism and Communication. It offers a wide variety of resources including virtual and augmented reality equipment that is available both for checkout to students currently enrolled in an SOJC class as well as to all SOJC students, faculty, and staff who book the lab. For more information, please visit the IML website. While non-SOJC students are not currently permitted to check out equipment or make bookings, the IML Creative Space is a weekly meeting held in the lab for students from all departments across campus to develop skills in AR/VR and 3D Creation. For more information or to contact them directly please visit here. IML Faculty and Staff: Maxwell Foxman, Tessa Freeland, Lisa Peyton.
The RAVE Lab - Eugene Campus - Price Science Library
The PSC Reality Augmentation and Virtual Experiences Lab is home to the next era of educational technologies now available to all UO students, faculty, and staff who complete the necessary access requirements. Through their lab you can experience 360 virtual environments simulating anything from historical wonders, outer space, and ocean reefs to anatomical structures. Whether you are seeking to learn, play, or create in virtual reality, the RAVE Lab invites you to explore everything it has to offer as well as to request any additional content and equipment as needed to enhance your enjoyment of the space. For more information, please visit their website.
Dr. Donna Z. Davis
Director and Founder of the Oregon Reality (OR) Lab, & Director of the Immersive Media Communication's Master's Program
Faculty Member specializing in all things production and technology, Technical Artist & Oregon Reality Lab Manager
Dr. Danny Pimentel
Assistant Professor Immersive Psychology & Co-Director of the Oregon Reailty (OR) Lab.