Call for Proposals 2021: MIT.nano Immersion Lab Gaming Program

MIT.nano, in collaboration with NCSOFT, one of our founding industry members, is seeking research proposals for projects that will explore software and hardware technology innovations for visual art: digital human creation; immersive sound & remote recording; education technology; and sports technology. Proposed research should focus on technical development via experimental, theoretical, and/or computational discovery.

Advanced by the power of play! Powering new ways to play!

New technologies and new paradigms of gaming will transform academic research, education, and collaboration by enabling immersive visualization and multi-dimensional interaction. New software and hardware advancements will transform gaming, work, education, and entertainment, rapidly proliferating new technical landscapes.

Proposals along the entire spectrum of mixed and enhanced reality will be considered, such as collecting data for immersive environments, new techniques for visualization, new approaches for motion capture, new sensors, and new mixed reality interfaces. Imagine how to apply and extend the paradigms of gaming to bring forward new ways to work, learn, and play!

Sample proposal topics could include, but are not limited to, science, technologies, and applications associated with visual art: digital human creation, sound: immersive sound & remote recording, education technology, and sports technology. Areas of interest include:

Focused topics:

  • Visual Art: Digital Human Creation
    • 4D facial performance capture (facial capture with tracking)
    • Gaze/iris tracking and simulation for realistic representation
    • Analysis of secondary motions of face (nodding, blinking, etc.) or simulation of facial secondary motions
    • Motion capture of hand/fingers with high precision
  • Sound: Immersive Sound & Remote Recording
    • Computation of personalized HRTF (Head Related Transfer Function)
    • Generation of 3D sound with mobile phone speakers or TV speakers
    • Simulation of sound propagation (reverberation, occlusion, obstruction, diffraction) for immersive gaming experience 
    • Techniques for promoting listening experience in a virtual recording environment where players and listeners are physically apart
    • Techniques for enabling a "virtual conductor" 
  • Education Technology 
    • Gamification, Virtual Classroom, Integration with edX
    • Proposals including technical innovation would be preferred
  • Sports Technology
    • Recommended to collaborate with Immersion Lab for experimental studies
    • Proposals including technical innovation would be preferred

Broad area topics:

  • New UI/UX for game users with physical disabilities
  • New types of sensors/input devices/displays for gaming applications
  • Novel approaches for computational modeling/simulating of olfaction
  • Detecting, or reducing the sense of dizziness or VR sickness that some users may experience when using immersive headsets
  • Techniques for effective multi-lingual teleconference, including machine translation & speech recognition/synthesis
  • Techniques for narrative/story generation based on language models 
  • Techniques for human-like smart agents cooperating with humans

All proposals for applications of enhanced reality tools or for technologies for creating an enhanced reality experience are welcome. The Program encourages proposals that involve collaborative research across MIT, and that have potential for sustainability beyond the grant period.

Read about the 2019 NCSOFT seed grant awardees and 2020 NCSOFT seed grant awardees.

Funding

Funding will be provided to support all aspects of the project with anticipated funding levels ranging from $100,000 to $150,000 inclusive of standard overhead. Project duration should be for 12 to 24 months. We expect that software projects will be at the $100,000 level and hardware projects likely more. After project term completion, additional funding may be available to extend promising projects.

Deadlines and Key Dates

  • September 9, 2021: Virtual office hours from 9AM - 11AM EDT with NCSOFT technology leaders and MIT PIs. Join via Zoom.
  • EXTENDED ONE WEEK: October 22, 2021: Deadline for proposals with budgets.  
  • November 17, 2021 (estimated): Applicants notified. 
  • January 2022: Funds become available to award recipients, also subject to RAS review process. 

Application Process

Applications must include a project proposal (download template) and the project budget. Because NCSOFT awards will be administered by the Materials Research Laboratory, all submitted budgets will need to be prepared by their finance team. Email Cathy Borgesen at borgesen@mit.edu for budget preparation instructions. Proposals submitted without Cathy’s preapproval will not be accepted. 

Please submit both the proposal and project budget via email to sense.nano.seed@mit.edu. Any related questions can be raised via this email as well. 

Review, Selection, and RAS Process

The proposals will be reviewed and selected by a committee composed of MIT.nano leadership, MIT faculty, and representatives of NCSOFT.

After selection by review committee, winning proposals will be routed for normal RAS review – under the cover of a Research Project Plan, which lists PIs, period of performance, SOW, budget, and standard contractual terms from a Master Research Agreement. 

Conditions

  1. Project management: The PI is directly responsible for performance of the work in the proposal and should not serve as proxy for others.
  2. Co-funding: Any anticipated external support for the proposed project must be declared at time of submission. If co-funding becomes an issue during the seed fund proposal/project process, this must be discussed with MIT.nano leadership prior to use of such funds.
  3. Sub-Awards: PIs wanting to include a sub-award should consult MIT.nano leadership before submitting.
  4. Intellectual Property
    • If the PI has existing IP relevant to the proposed project, this should be indicated at the time of submission. 
    • A PI associated with a lab or center with a membership agreement that specifies preferential access for its members to IP developed by participating PIs, or would in any way restrict access to the IP is ineligible for this award.
  5. Proposal Limit: No researcher may be listed as PI on more than two proposals submitted.
  6. Collaboration: PIs and researchers will attend a research progress discussion with MIT and NCSOFT at least two times per year.
  7. Deliverables: At the end of the grant period, grantees will be required to submit a brief report to MIT.nano highlighting the accomplishments and results of the project, the project’s impact on MIT, publications, and work products by the project, if any. The report should be 4 pages or less in length, and may be used in whole or in part in materials submitted to NCSOFT, and in consultation with the PIs, parts of it might be posted on the MIT.nano website. Grantees will be asked to speak at MIT workshops.

Questions?

Email sense.nano.seed@mit.edu.