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Michael  Chabin

Michael Chabin

Visting Lecturer

Contact Information
Informatics West 202

Courses Taught at SOIC

  • Programming Virtual Reality
  • Introduction to Virtual Reality Design


I've developed interactive animations for the National Air and Space Museum, the American Bankers Association, the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and others. I've also built an Alumni/Donor tracking and accounting system at UC Santa Cruz, a sea-going data acquisition system for the Institute for Geophysics at the University of Hawaii (where I never got over being sea-sick), and I did system-level design of automated fingerprint matching systems for SAGEM MORPHO, in Fontainebleau, France. I've also taught for a number of years.

Now I'm interested in non-game applications of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).

By VR, I mean immersive, interactive, computer generated experiences that depend on a head mounted display, headphones, and hand controllers of some kind. That, at least is what it means at the moment. VR is a dynamic technology. '?oVirtual hands'?' and eye tracking are likely to replace controllers in the next year or two. Headsets will certainly become lighter, more comfortable, less expensive, and provide a much wider field of view. People are working on everything from haptic feedback to the mental control of virtual spaces.

By AR, I mean tools that can place virtual objects and holograms in the world in front of the user.

I'm interested in all this mostly because students are. They are interested because it is fun, because the tools used to create virtual spaces are powerful and useful and because there will be lots of jobs in the field.

Applications seem beyond counting. Director Brian Singer, uses a VR headset to place virtual cameras and virtual lights on virtual sets, long before any filming begins. Code that runs a robot in a virtual world will run a real robot without modification. Prototypes can be printed with a 3D printer and placed in the hands of a tester in a virtual space where they not only feel like a planned product but can look and function like it too. VR has already shown promise in the treatment of certain psychological disorders. In fact, it is hard to think of a field where it could not be applied.

But, beyond practical applications, and almost more intriguingly, VR and AR are new mediums for storytelling. The challenges are obvious. How, for example, does one create a coherent narrative when the viewer is free to wander off at will? No one knows yet, but someone will figure it out and the results will be profound. It wouldn't surprise me at all, if that someone turned out to be one of my students.