Institute for IDEAS

Institute for Immersive Designs, Experiences, Applications, and Stories


The Institute for Immersive Designs, Experiences, Applications, and Stories (the Institute for IDEAS) is an interdisciplinary research center hosted in the School of Communication at American University. The mission of the Institute is to lead interdisciplinary research focused on developing, applying, and understanding immersive technologies, including virtual, augmented, mixed, and extended reality. The Institute serves as an international hub for scientific progress, operating at the meeting point of a wide variety of research and creative fields. The Institute was founded by Dr. Krzysztof Pietroszek and an interdisciplinary group of faculty across the American University and beyond, who actively research immersive technologies.



Dr. Pietroszek Presents a Keynote at Cannes

Dr. Pietroszek’s keynote describes a new and revolutionary form of storytelling.

Dr. Pietroszek presented on July 9, 2021

The last few years brought about a technological revolution that creates a new form of storytelling: holographic filmmaking. Based on the technology of volumetric capture that is, recording of “holograms”, holographic filmmaking, once a domain of science-fiction, is now becoming available to storytellers. Actors can be captured as holograms and placed to perform in virtual or real environments. Props set decoration, or even entire sets can be turned into photorealistic 3D models through a process known as photogrammetry. Stories told in this manner can be viewed using cave systems, head mounted virtual reality displays or augmented reality glasses, creating an experience similar to Star Trek’s Holodeck. While the technology is ready for new stories and storytelling techniques, our understanding of the language and grammar of this medium is very limited. In the keynote, I will present what I discovered about the language and grammar of volumetric filmmaking. I will show examples, including my own, of stories, told using this new medium. I will discuss how filmmakers can learn and use volumetric filmmaking through experimentation with low-cost volumetric capture technologies. I will argue that holographic filmmaking is a new and revolutionary form of storytelling that will not replace traditional cinema, but rather, it will become yet another form of telling stories, alongside live theater, radio, and films.

Cannes XR with Tabletop Stories

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Holographic Filmmaking - Artificial Reality Continuum Revolution in Storytelling 


Holographic Telehealth Project Receives $1,500,000 Research Award from the National Science Foundation

The project is led by Dr. Krzysztof Pietroszek (AU) and Dr. Neal Sikka (GW)


The holographic telehealth project of the Institute for IDEAS (AU) and the School of Medicine (GW) will transform the way medical personnel communicates and collaborates across the distance by allowing for real-time exchange of three-dimensional information that is missing in current videoconferencing telehealth. The project will lead to more equitable access to healthcare and will improved success for medical procedures that require the assistance of a remote expert.


Dr. Mark Nelson receives $175,000 from the National Science Foundation for Artificial Intelligence Project

The research will lead to better understanding of the inner workings of AI algorithms

Artificial Intelligence

There are a wide variety of artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms designed to make decisions for a number of different real-world problems. The purpose of this project is to systematically understand the difficulty that AI challenge problems pose to standard decision-making algorithms, as well as how robust such conclusions are to variations in problem design, problem size, computational resources, and algorithm configuration.


SOC and CAS Students Build a Humanoid Robot Together

Once built, the robot will learn how to talk, tell jokes, and play in a live theater

Humanoid Robot

Undergraduate and graduate students 3D-print and assemble a life-size humanoid robot. The robot will then be trained to talk, recognize faces, act in a theater, and have a sense of humor. Students will be able to embody the robot and control its movement. The project is a collaboration between Dr. Krzysztof Pietroszek of the Institute for IDEAS and Dr. Nathalie Japkowicz, the Chair of the Department of Computer Science.