ARCHIVED: About Reality Labs at IU

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Reality Labs are advanced classroom or lab spaces featuring virtual reality workstations called Reality Stations, developed by the UITS Advanced Visualization Lab in partnership with other UITS and departmental IT groups. Currently, 14 Reality Labs containing more than 42 Reality Stations are available to all members of the IU community on multiple campuses, including IU Bloomington, IUPUI, IU East, IU Northwest, IU South Bend, and IU Southeast, with additional Reality Labs under development or consideration. Access rules may apply differently at each location; see Locations and access.

Reality Labs are used for a wide variety of disciplines and activities where immersion in virtual worlds, simulations, or data visualizations are important. All installations feature PC-attached virtual reality systems, including the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift VR systems. A variety of virtual reality applications are installed, and more are available with the Steam video game distribution platform.

View a photo album of various Reality Labs in use.

Benefits and features

  • PC VR System: Explore data smoothly with a 90 frame per second refresh rate and stereoscopic rendering.
  • High performance tracking: Six degrees of freedom hand and head tracking, three meter² play spaces
  • Run any desktop or web app: Because of underlying high-end Windows PCs, Reality Stations run almost every Windows app or web-based content for VR or for desktop workstation environments.
  • ADS login: Those who can authenticate at IU can access any public Reality Station. Log in as you normally would in Windows; access is subject to room schedule and usage policies.
  • Multi-user: All Reality Stations are connected on the IU network and support multi-user or multi-player virtual reality applications.
  • Portability: Reality Stations are not portable. Those who require portable VR equipment are encouraged to purchase the latest consumer level headset (for example, the Meta Quest 2).

Locations and access

There are 16 Reality Lab sites on six different IU campuses. Some are in public locations, while others are in classroom areas and limited-access research labs; access to these depends on the location. The public and semi-public Reality Labs are:

Campus Location Partner groups Type of space Reality Stations Year installed
IU Bloomington
Fine Art 215 UITS/STC Classroom, public 10 2017
Fine Art 235 (DART Lab) CITO Lab 2 2018
Franklin Hall 052 UITS/STC Classroom, public 10 2017
Innovation Center 105 UITS/AVL Lab 3 2017
Kirkwood Hall 016 UITS/STC Classroom 1 2017
Luddy Hall 0117 SICE Lab 1 2018
Wells Library 401 (3D Lab) UITS/STC Public 6 2017
IUPUI Hine Hall Idea Garden UITS/STC Public 3 2018
IT 414 SOIC Emerging Technology Lab
SOIC Classroom, Lab 4 2020
IT 403 (AVL NEXT Lab) UITS/AVL Lab 2 2021
Ruth Lilly Medical Library Nexus Lab
RLML & IUSM Teaching lab 4 2018
University Library Center For Teaching and Learning
UITS/AVL Teaching lab 1 2019
IU East Hayes Hall 024 UITS @ IUE Classroom, public 10 2018
IU Northwest Marram Hall 103 UITS @ IUN Public 1 2018
IU South Bend
Schurz Library, One Button Studio
UITS @ IUSB Public 1 2018
IU Southeast Crestview Hall 112 UITS @ IUS Public 1 2018

Use a Reality Station

Using a Reality Station is much like using any Windows computer, just with a virtual reality headset attached. Reality Stations function like powerful workstations, but also with the ability to operate desktop and web VR applications in the virtual reality headset.

If you have an IU username and passphrase, you can log into an available Reality Station. If it's your first time at that particular equipment, the login process may take a few minutes while the computer prepares your account.

Installed virtual reality applications will be available from Steam. You may log into Steam with your personal account and install VR applications, or you may use the automatic Steam login application to access provided VR applications. To find the Steam login application, navigate to C:\AVL, or search the Start menu for STCSteamAccountLogin.

After launching Steam, the Reality Station may require you to perform a new room setup. See the video tutorial Set up VIVE for Room-scale from the manufacturer to complete the setup process.

Use cases

Activities on a Reality Station generally fall into one of three types:

  • Type 1: Use existing applications and sample data (for example, view geo-spatial data with Google AR/VR or understand complex mathematical concepts with CalcFlow).
  • Type 2: Capture or create your own data, and use existing applications to view or present it (for example, use YouTube VR to view 360 immersive video).
  • Type 3: Use authoring or other programming tools to create your own environment or application to view your data (for example, create a virtual environment with Unity or a web-based data visualization with WebVR).

The following table lists examples of each of these types of activities.

Use case Type 1 Type 2 Type 3
Research and scholarship CalcFlow UCSF ChimeraX
Teaching and learning
Google Earth AR/VR for exploration
YouTube VR topical immersive videos
Cultural and creative activities
The Night Cafe: A VR Tribute to Vincent Van Gogh Creative VR Tools
Bethel AME 3D/VR Creation and Curation, described in Chapter 3 of 3D/VR in the Academic Library:Emerging Practices and Trends (PDF)
Collaboration VR Art Collaboration Using Google Poly in Unity
Outreach 360 Video Tour of the Eskenazi Museum of Art at IU
YouTube VR topical immersive videos
Exploring IUPUI VR Tour

Available software

Commonly available software includes:

Also, see Virtual reality (VR) demos.

To discuss installing unique or custom software for your needs, email the AVL at

Acknowledge AVL resources

If your work makes use of or otherwise benefits from AVL technologies or support, acknowledge the "Advanced Visualization Laboratory at Indiana University" in any resulting scholarly printed works, web pages, talks, online publications, or presentations. The AVL is a unit of the Research Technologies division of UITS and is affiliated with IU's Pervasive Technology Institute (PTI).

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Last modified on 2023-12-14 15:44:14.