NU-Q establishes Media Innovation Lab

NU-Q student Omer Alaoui experiments with the MIL’s new Oculus Go VR headset.

Students, faculty, and staff at Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) will have access to a new Media Innovation Lab (MIL), which will bring innovative ideas together with theory and technology to develop original concepts and solutions to address challenges in the media world.

“The MIL is designed to stimulate curiosity, encourage interdisciplinary conversations, and enable our students to create tangible change in the media industry around them,” said Everette E. Dennis, dean and CEO at NU-Q. “It will also serve as a springboard to turn big ideas into practical products and processes.”

The MIL was the result of a working group created at NU-Q to explore how students, faculty, and staff could use the new building as a platform for innovation and a possible futures lab.  

Each year, the MIL will address a specific media-centric theme by arranging a series of workshops, lectures, and activities around it. This year the theme is “Virtual and Augmented Reality in Storytelling and Media.” As part of that theme, it will invite experts in the industry to visit NU-Q. 

This year, the first expert will be Emmy-winning virtual reality producer and editorial director of enterprise and immersive experiences at TIME, Mia Tramz. Tramz, responsible for launching TIME’s company-wide VR and AR platform in both production and business development, will share her expertise on innovative and immersive storytelling. In addition to speaking about the current state of the technology being used in media and sharing her story, Tramz will host several workshops on content creation for the NU-Q community.

In October, the theme will be on the technical aspects of VR and AR, with a lecture and training session on equipment and recording content. In November, the MIL will provide a session on designing a project plan for the creation of a complete VR project, from idea formation through going live. 

For students, faculty, and staff working in the MIL, there will be an array of AR and VR equipment to support media content creation and consumption. The equipment includes various headsets such as Oculus Go, Samsung Gear, Google Daydream, HTC Vive Pro, and the Lenovo Mirage Solo with Daydream, among other technologies.

In addition to mentorship and access to technology, a grant program will also be offered to students for ideas related to virtual and augmented reality.