The Augmented Environments Lab (AEL) in the GVU Center at the Georgia Institute of Technology consists of researchers from multiple schools and disciplines, who are exploring the interplay of design and technology in digital immersive experiences. The lab was founded in 1998 by Prof. Blair MacIntyre, and the term “Augmented Environments” expresses its original focus on applications in which the physical environment is an essential part of the digitally mediated experience. From its founding until about 2015, most of lab’s work involved Augmented Reality (AR), but the lab has always also been interested in Mixed Reality (MR) and to some extent Virtual Reality (VR) as well. In the last decade, technologies and applications of AR, MR, VR have been converging; the term XR is now often used to describe the whole spectrum of digitally mediated experiences. Our scope now includes in principle all three components of XR, with a particular focus on WebXR, the use of web browsers for delivering virtual and augmented experiences to a variety of platforms, including laptops, portables, tablets, phones and headsets.
The lab is at present concentrating on the content and design of experiences for cultural heritage, informal learning, and art and expression. Our main project is RealityMedia (realitymedia.digital), a project exploring three related modes of communication and expression: print, the web, and immersive VR. Students and faculty researchers are also experimenting with interactive VR narrative and with XR as a persuasive technology (e.g. to raise awareness of the need for biodiversity threatened by climate change). Our project based design research is complemented by theoretical and historical research in media studies and the social impacts of XR media, as you can see on our publications page.