3-D Revival | Tech Innovation

Now playing: Back from the Dead, starring UCF’s Jayan Thomas as a breakthrough innovator who saves the day.

Gone are the goofy glasses required of existing sets. Instead, UCF Assistant Professor Jayan Thomas is working on creating the materials necessary to deliver a 3-D image that could be seen from 360 degrees with no extra equipment. His work is so far along the road to success that the National Science Foundation has given him a five-year, $400,000 grant to develop the materials needed to produce display screens.

When 3-D TVs first came on the market in 2010, there was significant hype and the market for new sets was expected to take off. Several broadcasters even pledged to establish special channels for 3-D programming, including ESPN and the BBC. But in the past year, those broadcasters have canceled plans because sales have lagged and the general public simply hasn’t adopted the sets (citing expense and equipment bulkiness). Thomas’ approach would use new plastic composites developed through nanotechnology to make the 3-D image recording process exceedinglyfaster than currently available—eliminating the need for glasses. He and his colleagues have developed the specific plastic composite required to create the display screens necessary for effectively showing the 3-D images.

“The TV screen should be like a table top,” says Thomas, who has joint appointments in the UCF NanoScience Technology Center, the Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers, and the College of Engineering and Computer Science. “People would sit around a table and watch the TV from all angles.. Therefore, the images should be like real-world objects. If you watch a football game on this 3-D TV, you would feel as if it is happening right in front of you. A holographic 3-D TV is a feasible direction to accomplish this without the need for glasses.”

Robotic Exploration Fair Game

Hidden details about the 1964-65 World’s Fair in New York are being brought to the surface by a UCF history professor whose first memory of the event came after most of it had been torn down.

Lori Walters, who also serves as a researcher at UCF’s Institute for Simulation & Training, remembers being captivated when, as a small child growing up on Long Island, she would pass the New York Pavilion site in the family car. Now, Walters’ research interests focus largely on the 1950s and 1960s and the technological changes that occurred in that era. To help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the New York World’s Fair, Walters is preparing to debut a digital re-creation of the event, which she has directed for the past four years. In June she will visit the World’s Fair site with 50 to 60 middle school students from neighboring Nassau County to instruct them in a project that will use a toaster-sized FARO LiDAR scanner to record one of the few remaining structures, the New York State Pavilion.

Also, she has joined the ranks of a growing and, thanks to online media, increasingly public group of scholars, archaeologists and mystery enthusiasts seeking to study what they believe are the remains of one of the Fair’s lesser-known attractions, the Underground House. The house was designed at a time during the Cold War when many Americans were worried about the potential for a nuclear attack. Walters’ plan is to explore the house using one of the tools IST is renowned for building: a small robotic device that could offer viewing through an endoscopic camera. She believes the structure was simply covered up after the upper-level pavilion was torn down along with most of the other exhibits after the Fair closed in the fall of 1965.

LCD Research Shines

UCF optics Researcher Shin-Tson Wu is lighting the way again.

Wu, among the university’s top patent generators as an innovator in liquid crystal displays, has been selected to receive the Esther Hoffman Beller Medal from The Optical Society for his broad and significant impact to academia and industry in photonics education. He has been an industry award recipient for the past several years.

Wu and his Liquid Crystal Displays lab team conduct the research that is leading to increasingly lifelike flat-screen displays. Also, the Pegasus professor of optics at UCF has received nearly 80 U.S. patents for his work, both at UCF and at a research lab in California, and has been instrumental in the development of displays that are brighter, more energy efficient, and both bigger and smaller than ever.

“Dr. Wu is an extraordinary example of the influence one exceptional faculty members can have on an industry,” says Bahaa Saleh, dean of UCF’s College of Optics & Photonics. Saleh, who is also a recipient of the Esther Hoffman Beller Medal, said the international recognition such awards generate help the college continue to attract highly regarded faculty and talented students, which in turn generates funding and innovative technology.

Nursing Simulation

Thanks to a $1 million grant, the UCF College of Nursing has established an endowed chair for health-care simulation.

Research Professor Gregory Welch, a computer scientist and engineer, has been appointed to the chair. The Florida Hospital Endowed Chair for Healthcare Simulation will support the research and development of enhanced simulation technology to improve health care education. The endowed chair is the sixth established in the College of Nursing and the second that Florida Hospital has endowed at UCF. The tenured chair includes appointments to the UCF nursing faculty, the Institute for Simulation and Training and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

“We are grateful to our partner, Florida Hospital, for its great generosity,” says Mary Lou Sole, the College of Nursing’s interim dean. “This new endowed chair underscores the College of Nursing’s commitment to becoming a national leader in developing and testing innovative technologies to enhance nursing and health care education as well as patient care delivery. Ultimately, patient outcomes will be improved.”

Welch expects the multi-disciplinary nature of his appointment to allow him to generate collaboration among computer scientists and health care educators, practitioners and organizations.

Soileau Wins EDC Award

The first leader of an internationally recognized research institute has been honored again. MJ Soileau, vice president for UCF’s Office of Research & Commercialization and inaugural director of UCF’s Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers (CREOL), received the “Chairman’s” Award from the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission on April 3. The award, part of the James B. Greene Annual Awards, honors longtime contributions to the Orlando EDC.

Soileau arrived at UCF in 1987 and has served as a vice president since 1999. Under his leadership, research funding earned by UCF faculty members has increased to more than $100 million annually for each of the past nine years. UCF also has been recognized for ranking among the world’s top universities for patents earned by faculty members. Additionally, Soileau helped guide UCF’s Business Incubation Program since its founding in 1999. In 2013, the program was named as the National Incubator Network of the Year by the National Business Incubation Association.

“MJ’s intelligence, tenacity and passion have helped our university grow into one of the nation’s major metropolitan research universities and, more importantly, have helped UCF make major contributions to the economic growth and diversity of the Central Florida region,” says President John C. Hitt.