This issue marks the 100th publication of E-nnovation Germany, the newsletter of the German Center for Research and Innovation New York (DWIH-New York). Since its inception in 2010, the DWIH-New York has grown into a major network bridging the transatlantic research and innovation communities.

Thank you for your continued support of the DWIH-New York, our events and publications. 

Issue #100, September 2018

   Virtual Reality
   Interview: Dr. Mueller-Birn
   Falling Walls 2018
   October Events

Virtual Reality
It is said that at the screening of the first movie ever made, a film showing a train arriving at a French station, audience members fled fearing the train would run them over. Since then storytelling has only become more immersive. In the case of Virtual Reality (VR) research shows that  memories made in VR are stored and retrieved in the brain exactly as experiential memories are.

To date no single technology has emerged that blends VR with a desirable, affordable, mass-market form. This may soon change; in May 2018 Facebook launched its VR headset, and Apple is set to release its own in 2020.
While the average consumer awaits these technologies, innovators in other industries are developing VR technologies for specific applications in society. 

Our September newsletter features four German examples: is exploring VR in gaming, ARTE in media and journalism, Demodern in advertising and INVR.SPACE in hardware such as headsets and camera rigs. Our interview is with Dr. Claudia Mueller-Birn, who discusses her research on human-machine interaction and the ways VR might impact our lives in the future.
Dr. Clauda Mueller-Birn
©Frank Woelffing

Interview with Dr. Claudia Mueller-Birn

Dr. Claudia Mueller-Birn is the head of the research group on Human-Centered Computing at Freie Universitaet Berlin's Institute of Computer Science. Additionally, she is  a principal investigator of the  Cluster of Excellence   "Image Knowledge Gestaltung - An Interdisciplinary Laboratory" at the Humboldt Universitaet Berlin  and head of the priority area "Architectures of Knowledge." 

She is specifically interested in investigating human-machine collaboration in peer production-based, open-knowledge collections such as Wikipedia and Wikidata. Her current projects are primarily in the field of e-research, where, for example, she designs tools for scientific collaborations at the interface between the physical and digital world by using mixed reality technology.

In the interview Dr. Mueller-Birn discusses the current state and future of VR and augmented reality (AR) and her research on human-machine interaction.

Read the full interview here.
Dancers using VR in the project "Playing with Virtual Realities"
© Beitrag3

Since the first computers were developed, people have used them to build and play games. Nowadays games are far more than just entertainment - they teach, train, engage; they motivate work, help in research, connect people and even treat diseases. Digital games are at the center of our society. In Germany alone more than 34 million people play computer games. is a research and development platform at the Humboldt Universitaet in the center of Berlin - and it's all about games. Here, science meets playfulness, theory meets praxis and knowledge meets motivation. The members of the come from many areas and disciplines, but all of them understand games as a ubiquitous cultural technique and as a powerful way to create knowledge. Many games and experimental prototypes have been developed and tested in the - games for health, for education and even for change.

Current developments focus on exploring the possibilities of Virtual Reality (VR). In the dance performance "Playing with Virtual Realities," professional dancers have learned to dance using VR and communicate through it. This project explored the connections between mental imagination and screens and between mind and technology. The project "Bee Virtual" examines how VR can be used for creating orientation in space, memorizing objects and structures and communicating about them. "Water for Kenya VR" integrates an immersive VR experience about climate change and sustainability into geography classes in school. In the very recent project "Exgavine," the researchers are working on a VR application for elderly people to treat dementia and maintain equilibrium.

With many new partners and collaborations is a fast-growing research platform, looking forward to creating and researching the future of gaming in our society.

Clip from the trailer of ARTE's 

Equator 360.

©DEEP Inc., 2018

The European broadcaster ARTE is a pioneer in immersive media. Since 2013 with the project Polar Sea 360°, a documentary series and the world's first VR documentary from a broadcaster, they have been exploring the newest areas of the audiovisual world. The success of this project encouraged a deeper dedication to the immersive-storytelling technology that was for a century part of the dream of grand storytellers like the Lumiere Brothers, Sergeij Eisenstein or Walt Disney to take the audience deeper into their stories with the help of technology.
For ARTE, ARTE360, produced  with the Canadian partner DEEP Inc. and the support of the Canadian Media Fund, birthed a platform on which to produce and publish different genres in a 360° perspective as they pursue the question: is this the future of audiovisual media?
From the beginning people on all continents--mainly from Europe but also in cooperation with partners in North America or Asia--watched these productions. The audience takes flight into the stratosphere to come closer to the stars in ARTE's Edge of Space. With productions like I, Philip and Alteration viewers learn how VR can be used for fictional stories. In Tales from Jerusalem the audience dives into life in the streets of Jerusalem and experiences fictional stories based on reality. Or in Notes on Blindness one finds out what it means to be blind. These projects are a sampling of the more than 50 projects available from ARTE.
On September 22nd ARTE will launch a new project on the scale of Polar Sea 360°: Equator 360 is a  coproduction with partners in Europe, North America and Asia, will take the audience in 12 4K episodes on a journey all along the Equator. Using VR director Nicolas Jolliet allows viewers to dive into the life of native people and learn about their view on the earth, on life and also on subjects like climate change, allowing one to see reality differently after watching.
To see their projects for yourself, check out the ARTE360-App for iPhone, Android, GearVR, AppleTV, Daydream and Windows MR:

Demodern's Ikea Immerse Project
Demodern Creative Technologies

Demodern  is a multi-award winning digital agency for online communication, design and digital projects. Established by designers, Demodern specializes in digital presentations and user experiences that makes sense. They develop their projects collaboratively with specialists in strategy, design, user experience and development.
Founded in 2008, Demodern is based in Cologne, Hamburg and Frankfurt am Main, and they are currently focusing growth on the U.S. Under the leadership of Kristian Kerkhoff and Alexander El-Meligi, a team of 80 employees offers international creative and technological insights to their clients. These clients include both German-based customers with international business like Deutsche Telekom, IKEA and Daimler, and international clients like Gatorade, Wacom, Konami, Cisco and Montblanc. Demodern promotes good ideas, but they do not limit themselves to established media, nor do they recommend the same technologies. Each project is considered new and developed independently. 
Among their list of unique, digital design projects are a number of virtual and augmented reality projects. IKEA Immerse , for example, enables consumers to create, experience and share their own configurations in a virtual living and kitchen room set. Demodern developed in collaboration with PETA Germany and Kolle Rebbe the first VR live-acting experience using motion capture that allows users to engage in real-time dialogue with a virtual animal. Last but not least their Ulm VR Experience: through Virtual Reality, the user can explore the historic city of Ulm flying on Birdly.

INVR.SPACE's 360 ° Cameras in their Headquarters in Berlin

A few years ago when the new rise of VR was just a murmur, the founders of INVR.SPACE were working in the film industry and developed tools for Storytelling in Stereoscopic 3D as well as for Dome - and Panorama projections from 180 to 360°. This resulted in an entire business dedicated to this special topic: Virtual Reality. Since the foundation of INVR.SPACE in 2016, game designers, developers, stitching artists and producers have joined the team and provided a whole range of different VR and AR experiences. At the same time, the technology focus has also made it possible to offer a large rental service for VR shooting and screenings equipment. As a full service studio INVR.SPACE has the necessary expertise and equipment to supervise VR projects from research to distribution.
As AR and VR technology is still very young on the market and many development steps can be taken, a rapid development is in progress. As a first-hour user, the INVR. SPACE team also became involved in specific technological research and creations. For example, they developed their own camera rigs, which were not yet available on the market and made complex VR shooting possible in the first place, or they created an application which makes it possible to control and supervise several headsets simultaneously in a VR Cinema environment. Meanwhile INVR is also involved in major research on VR camera technology and Volumetric VR.
The field of VR productions is a specialized topic within the media industry, but the clients and the challenges they are presenting to the VR experts are very diverse. Each project requires its own approach and very specific solutions--some including customized hardware and software components. Since its foundation INVR.SPACE has been involved in more than 200 VR projects worldwide with international partners and customers such as BMW, Mercedes Benz, Harman, Samsung, Deutsche Bank, Unicef, ARTE and ZDF.

Left to right: Fei Shen, Gianna Grogan, Nava Gharaei
©Nathalie Schueller
Falling Walls Lab 2018

On Thursday, September 13, the DWIH-New York partnered with NYU's Tandon School of Engineering to host the Falling Walls Lab 2018, a pitch competition in which participants share their ideas for breaking down walls in science and society.

Gianna Grogan, a student at Virginia Tech, won 1st place for her pitch on "Breaking Down the Walls of Diabetes Medication." Grogan's lab is working to make medication more natural, affordable and accessible to diabetes patients by replacing injections with newly developed pills. Harvard's Nava Gharaei received 2nd for her pitch on mapping brain neurons and brain DNA, and NYU's Fei Shen won 3rd for her presentation on preventing cyberattacks on the data of 3D printers.

Both Grogan and Gharaei, 1st and 2nd place finishers, will be flown to Berlin where they will pitch their ideas against other Falling Walls Lab winners from across the world. 

For more information, visit

Falling Walls Lab 2017 New York ©Nathalie Schueller
Our event season is fully underway and will continue into October. Save the dates below and follow our Eventbrite
to keep track of what we're up to.

Oct. 16, 6:30 PM ET - Crossmodal Learning in Human Robots.

Oct. 23, 6:30 PM ET - Leibniz Lecture with Prof. Dr. Axel Ockenfels