Virtual and Augmented Reality Business Unit (VARBU) Expands

The Virtual and Augmented Reality Business Unit (VARBU) at the University continues to expand with many new examples of its resources and services employed across campus.

VARBU was established to serve the University community, researchers, scientists, and students in exploring Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR) applications, development, devices, and systems.  It is designed to assist UI faculty and staff members who have a research project that requires special visualization or whether they need to quickly develop a VR or AR project or try new equipment before they purchase.

VARBU's services include 3-D modeling, VR software programming, VR project management, VR service consultation, VR system integration, and VR device development.

Here is some of the latest news about VARBU:

UI Department of English Professor Barbara Eckstein teaches her students about Harriet Ann Jacobs, the African-American writer who escaped from slavery and was later freed.  The 19th Century narrative is about a young woman who hid in her grandmother's crawl space above her store room for nearly seven years. With the help from VARBU's Chris Murphy Professor Eckstein's students are now able to experience first hand the confined space Jacobs hid for those seven years.
Karim Abdel-Malek, professor of biomedical engineering and director of the UI Center for Computer-Aided Design, recently spoke about the Future of AI and VR technology.  The segment, prepared by the UI Center for Advancement, features eight leaders from the University of Iowa predicting the future. (
VARBU recently won a contracts from the Iowa Department of Transportation to develop a Virtual Reality simulation to make the connection of the effect of the importance of seat belts during low- and medium-level accidents. The VR system will be demonstrated during the 2018 Iowa State Fair.
VARBU hosts more than 50 groups of visitors since its launch last year.  If you want to visit and learn more, contact Jenny Simpson for a tour of our facilities:, 319-384-0574
UI President Bruce Harreld singled out the UI Center for Computer-Aided Design's VARBU unit as exemplary of the importance of groundbreaking UI research. (
VARBU IDEA Lab. Steve Baek, assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering and researcher at the UI Center for Computer-Aided Design, serves as a co-principal investigator of a $1.6 million project sponsored by the US Department of Transportation for the development of high-fidelity avatars for virtual reality road-usage simulation.

To learn more about VARBU, go to or contact Jenny Simpson at

To read the online, interactive brochure on VARBU, go to