Technology collaborations that touch every aspect of the U-M experience.

U-M Rehabilitation patient VR experience in the Visualization Studio MIDEN

A partnership between the Digital Media Commons’ Visualization Studio and Michigan Health enables rehabilitation patients to create and explore new virtual worlds.

Donn Hilker, Clinical Director for the University of Michigan Health Rehabilitation Engineering Program, leads a team who use engineering and new technologies to increase the functional capabilities and quality of life of individuals with disabilities. Recently he began exploring the use of the Duderstadt Center’s MIDEN (Michigan Digital Experience Nexus) as a resource for patients such as Travar Pettway.

Read more about Donn Hilker’s work with Travar, and the value of rich resources like the MIDEN freely accessible for developing new applications of the virtual reality experience, in “Travar’s Michigan Answer: Helping shape the future for people with disabilities” at Michigan Answers, telling the stories of Michigan Medicine’s responses to healthcare challenges.

The DMC’s Emerging Technologies Group (ETG) develops the latest XR (VR, AR, MR) technologies as practical tools for research and instruction, partnering with colleges and departments across the U-M. Alongside the newest devices and applications, the MIDEN, a 1990’s technology in use at the Duderstadt Center for 25 years, continues to deliver engaging and unique applications of virtual reality to a growing number of disciplines. It has proved to be an evergreen resource, enhanced regularly with new software and hardware by the ETG staff. It is especially useful when interpersonal and shared physical interaction play a role in the VR experience.

The ETG team assists faculty, students, and staff from across the university to discover and apply 3D concepts and XR tools tools in a fraction of the time and resources typically required. This enables rapid testing of “proof of concept” applications, and creates a cost-effective path to further development. Michigan Medicine’s early testing of VR for rehabilitation applications is just one example of 25 years of innovation in the Duderstadt Center’s Visualization Studio, also home of the MIDEN.

Travar Pettway (seated) is assisted by his Michigan Medicine rehabilitation team as he explores a VR environment adapted to respond to his limited range of movement by the ETG staff.

The MIDEN helped architects, engineers, and U-M Athletic department personnel study enhancements to Yost Ice Arena without diminishing the all-important role of crowd noise during a hockey game. ETG staff created a physical and visual simulation, complete with realistic 3D spatial audio. to test multiple design configurations.

For the Kelsey Museum’s landmark exhibit of Oplontis, the MIDEN recreated a famous villa excavated in that archeological site near Pompeii and Herculaneum, all destroyed by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE.