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The advanced visualization center has assisted USF faculty and staff in completing the following research and development projects:


Paint the Town, City of Clearwater, Augmented Reality

A demonstration of digital content overlayed onto the mural from the adjacent parking lot.

Our team created an Augmented Reality application for the City of Clearwater's mural project, in collaboration with the USF Access 3D lab. The Advanced Visualization Center team was tasked with turning a 100 ft mural into an augmented reality experience. We developed triggers and trackers to display 3D and video content over specific locations of the mural to deliver information about the City of Clearwater and the mural project to the user. This initial app is available on Apple's App store and Google Play. The Team created a framework to enable additional murals in future versions of the app.

Augmented Reality for Digital Placemaking: Public Art in Clearwater, Florida L Kathryn Harrison, R D'Amour, H Kaplan, C Hubbard, E SantiagoThe 26th International Conference on 3D Web Technology, 1-6

Virtual Microscopy Viewer

A high-resolution microscopy slide is viewed in a web-based interface.

The Virtual Microscopy site was developed by the Advanced Visualization Center in collaboration with faculty and students from USF Health's Morsani College of Medicine.

This project is funded by USF Health Technology Fees (Project HTFR0001127) aimed to improve student access to advanced technologies.

The goal of the site was to provide a web-based method for viewing extremely large microscopy slide images, to be used as a visual aid for teachers and academics.

Originally, the college had a viewer written in Flash. When Flash was deprecated, the college contracted the AVC to re-implement the old viewer using modern web technologies, as well as adding new features.

Features of the new site:

  • View large image files generated by the microscopy equipment used by the college on the web
  • Annotate the slides in the viewer with shapes and pins
  • Display information about the currently viewed slide, such as the magnification and description
  • Share annotations and views via urls
  • Allow select faculty users to upload new slides to the slide database
  • Search the slide database by tags, or browse by category

VA Patient Fall Simulation

A VA Researcher participates in the virtual reality simulation and prepares to catch a virtual patient as it falls.

The Advanced Visualization Center came up with and created a virtual reality application to study and collect data on how VA nurses respond to a patient falling during a wheelchair transfer. The custom application uses the Valve Index to track 10 points on the participants body, including: head, hands, and back. The simulation was developed using Unity, Autodesk Maya, and Adobe software. The application requires a participant to enter the VR headset and to wear the trackers on the body. An operator uses the simulation interface on the VR PC to start and stop the simulation, and to trigger the patient 3D avatar Fall. Data is collected on the position and forces of all points of the participant, as well as the 3D avatar. This scenario was developed to mirror a bathroom in which a “caregiver” can react in a VR environment using sensors and controllers as a patient who is transferring begins to fall. This “original scenario” can be tested and expanded upon further, and provides an innovative and safe method for studying and training.

Virtual Reality as a Therapy Adjunct for Fear of Movement in Veterans With Chronic Pain

A student and a VA researcher sample apps in virtual reality

For this project we assisted the Tampa, James A. Haley VA, with the implementation of virtual reality application for a research study involving patients with chronic pain. Our role was to make technology recommendations, determine appropriate VR applications for a hierarchy ranging from low-intensity pain distraction to high-intensity movement-based exposure, and to assist with the setup and use of the virtual reality hardware.

The publication "Virtual Reality as a Therapy Adjunct for Fear of Movement in Veterans With Chronic Pain: Single-Arm Feasibility Study" ( Fowler CA, Ballistrea LM, Mazzone KE, Martin AM, Kaplan H, Kip KE, Ralston K, Murphy JL, Winkler SL. JMIR Form Res 2019;3(4):e11266,. doi: 10.2196/11266) can be found here.

Immersive Virtual Reality to Improve Outcomes in Veterans With Stroke

A man wears a Samsung Gear VR Headset.

In collaboration with the Tampa James A. Haley VA we assisted with the implementation of Virtual Reality technologies for a research study on the use of VR as a therapeutic platform for pain distraction and exercise for stroke patients. Specifically, this was done to determine the feasibility and tolerability of using a therapeutic VR platform in an inpatient comprehensive stroke rehabilitation program and to estimate the initial clinical efficacy (effect size) associated with the VR platform using apps for pain distraction and upper extremity exercise for post-stroke neurologic recovery. We also implemented a data collection system to track utilization of the apps by patients.

The publication "Immersive Virtual Reality to Improve Outcomes in Veterans With Stroke: Protocol for a Single-Arm Pilot Study" (Tran JE, Fowler CA, Delikat J, Kaplan H, Merzier MM, Schlesinger MR, Litzenberger S, Marszalek JM, Scott S, Winkler SL Immersive Virtual Reality to Improve Outcomes in Veterans With Stroke: Protocol for a Single-Arm Pilot Study JMIR Res Protoc 2021;10(5):e26133 doi: 10.2196/26133) can be found here.

Reconstructing CAAL

A humanities researcher explores the virtually-reconstructed CAAL center using an Oculus Rift headset and the AVC high-resolution visualization wall

This website, built by the AVC, is the result of a collaborative project, RECAAL ("reconstructing CAAL"). The aim of the project was to digitally reconstruct the first humanities computing center, CAAL. The idea behind CAAL was to use IBM punched-card machines to process language instead of numbers, to treat language as data, an innovative idea at the time. After several years in temporary locations, in 1961 the operation moved into a former textile factory in Gallarate, outside Milan, where IBM punched-card data processing machines were installed. Teams of student operators, most of them young women, along with scholars at Father Busa's college in Gallarate, the Aloisianum, worked there for six years (1961-1967) on a lemmatized concordance to the works of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Index Thomisticus, as well as on other projects using the method of punched-card data processing.

The AVC both reconstructed the center from photographs and created a website to provide information, showcase the reconstructed 3D model, and host some of the documents that were handled by the center.

The website can be found here.


The ARPA project uses colorful cubes in conjuction with image recognition to trigger content displays on a tablet.

AR-enhanced learning, was developed in collaboration with Dr. Sanghoon Park, College of Education, and is an innovative form of instructional technology that enables students to experience a real-time view of a physical world through augmented reality delivered digital learning content. The application was developed for both Android and iOS tablets.

This project involved many different technologies, including:

  1. 3D modelling and 3D animation were used to create the three-dimensional avatar.
  2. 3D printing was used to create the AR cubes.
  3. Unity3D was used to create the interactive experience and deploy to Android and iOS.

AR Engineering Building Demonstration

A 3D model of the proposed building is shown on an iPad in virtual AR space.

The AR Engineering Building demonstration is an AR-powered walk-through of a three story building proposed by the USF Engineering department. Using architectural renders, the Advanced Visualization Center created 3D models of the buildings exterior and interior. A custom interface and tracking system was developed to enable navigation of the building in the augmented / mixed reality space. Using a mobile tablet, the app allows users to view the building interactively from any angle, and features navigation buttons to display each floor, specific rooms, and the exterior environment.

Dozier Fire Simulation

Top: Broken apart view of the school, showing various floors; Bottom: Simulation of the school building burning.

The Advanced Visualization Center, in Collaboration with Dr. Erin Kimmerle, of the USF Institute of Forensic Anthropology and Applied Sciences, created a 3D simulation of the Dozier School for Boys fire that took place on . The recreation was generated using 3D modeling and animation software. The digital models of the school were also 3D printed in sections so that viewers could see the layout more clearly. Other artifacts were also scanned, 3D printed, and shared virtually.

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3D simulation of a simplified hospital environment, with arrows overlayed on the floor.

The Virtual Patient Safety project is an educational Virtual Environment designed to train nursing staff on the proper procedures for preventing and responding to patient falls. Made in collaboration with the VA, the Advanced Visualization Center (AVC) designed and built 3D models including Avatars, virtual bots, the virtual environment and all of the assets. The AVC also generated the animations and avatar control systems. The simulation featured a full interactive 3D virtual environment in which the user plays the part of a nurse responding to a patient fall. An instructional system was developed to capture data about each user's interaction in the virtual space, as they answered multiple choice questions, input free text observations, and their time taken at each stage of the simulation. Feedback was also given to the user after each response location.

Archaeopteryx HoloLens Viewer

Dr. Carney demonstrates his Archeopteryx project on the AVC Visualization Wall.

The Advanced Visualization center developed a one-of-a-kind HoloLens application in collaboration with Dr. Ryan Carney that allows the user to see a virtual reconstruction of a specimen of Archaeopteryx in augmented reality. The AVC created the app with features that allow the user to see the 3D specimen both as it was found in the fossil, and also as an animated complete skeleton. Interactive modes also allow the user to control the wings of Archaeopteryx. This project received widespread attention through Dr. Ryan Carney both by Fox News and National Geographic.

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Adrenergic Pharmacology VR

A screenshot from within the VR application.

The Virtual Reality Adrenergic Pharmacology module is a groundbreaking collaboration between the Advanced Visualization Center and USF College of Pharmacy. Working with Dr. Daniel Lee, the AVC created a virtual reality experience for the Oculus Go that allowed students to learn about adrenergic pharmacology visually and immersively.

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Florida Postcards

Screenshot of the Florida Postcards website.

The Florida Postcards project was initiated by Laura Runge, PhD. in order to visualize the world's largest Florida Postcard database, contained within the USF Library.

This project was written in HTML/CSS/Javascript and designed to run as a website.

The visualizations created included:

  1. A timeline of postcards
  2. An interactive map plotting the postcard sender and receiver coordinates
  3. An interactive dashboard with which users can explore the data in depth and search for specific cards