Photo by Lasia Kretzel

Everyone marvelled at James Cameron’s movie Avatar. But how does all that fascinating technology get developed?

A Carleton grad student, Nuket Nowlan, has started her own company, 3D Virtual Crafting, that produces avatars and immersive computer environments. Avatars are a graphical representation of yourself on a computer screen allowing you to put yourself into any kind of virtual environment and then perform some tasks.

Nowlan recently shared her wares at Digifest, a new digital media festival held in Toronto.

“My research can help almost anyone create a safe immersive environment where their avatars can test products, simulate situations and role play to meet their specific goals,” says Nowlan. “The kind of participation involved in these projects can also help develop skills we need to succeed such as thinking, leadership and collaboration.”

Photo by Lasia Kretzel

Nowlan was joined at Digifest by another Carleton grad student, Farzin Farhadi-Niaki, who is researching better ways to help people move objects on their computer screens with the tap of a finger or the swirl of a wrist.

“It’s pretty cutting-edge and we hope that our research will help improve peoples’ lives by allowing them to access a computer remotely using natural gestures rather than a mouse,” says Farhadi-Niaki.

Nowlan has just completed all of her requirements for the Technology Innovation Management program while Farhadi-Niaki is in the master’s program in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carleton.

Both grad students work with Professor Ali Arya, a digital media guru at Carleton.

Prof. Arya says: “We are trying to open up and discover new territories made possible by digital media, so it is the perfect opportunity for our research group to help and present in events like Digifest where people discuss how digital technology is changing the way we live.”

Drs. Arya and Anthony Whitehead, who is also doing leading edge digital media research, were on the academic committee for Digifest and plan to set up a similar event here in Ottawa.

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