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Computer scientist wins Fellowship for AR development

University of Otago computer scientist Stefanie Zollman has won the L’Orėal-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellowship, which recognises outstanding female scientists globally.

Researching the wide world of augmented reality, Dr Zollmann’s $25,000 fellowship will enable her to further develop this technology.

“Currently, we only scratch the surface of what augmented reality can do. I’m particularly interested in how it can be applied to outdoor usage, such as in construction works, tourist guides or in navigation,” she explains.

Augmented reality is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.

Dr Zollmann will use the funding to investigate how augmented reality can be used to visualise geographic data in outdoor environments. She will investigate the current gaps in this technology including the inaccurate alignment of “augmented” over “real-world” and also address the issue of missing mapping between digital information and real world objects.

The L’Orėal-UNESCO For Women in Science Australia and New Zealand Fellowship programme comprises five $25,000 awards, four for Australian scientists and one dedicated to a New Zealander, totalling $125,000. Each year the For Women in Science programme highlights scientific excellence and encourages promising talent.

Dr Zollmann says she is proud to have her research recognised, especially in a year when she has juggled the demands of an international research career with having her first child.

“Obviously, this fellowship will help advance my own career, but I hope it also increases the visibility of women in computer science.”

University of Otago Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Richard Blaikie, says he is very pleased for Dr Zollmann that her research has been recognised.

“Having Stefanie’s work recognised through this premier international fellowship is an outstanding achievement for her and her research team,” Professor Blaikie says.

“This is also another example of the kind of world-leading research being carried out at the University of Otago that we have the privilege to support.”

Dr Zollmann says augmented reality is a science that still has significant challenges and she is looking to address these in her future projects.

“These AR (augmented reality) applications still face major obstacles, including integrating digital information more accurately over the real environment,” she explains.

“My research investigates the currents gaps in this technology and addresses the issue of missing mapping between digital information and real-world objects. This will allow for the use of augmented reality in a wider range of scenarios and open up new research directions in this field.”

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