Words by Ashton Vogelhuber

Photo by Sam Karam. Kent State’s Multimedia Studio provides new technology, equipment and software to enhance learning for students.

Kent State’s Student Multimedia Studio, also known as SMS, supplies students with a makerspace to sharpen their technology toolbox.

The SMS, located on the first floor of the University Library, has a wide range of maker and multimedia software such as 3-D printers, 3-D pen tools, Leap Motion and editing suites. The technology is free for all Kent State students.

“Most of the equipment that’s available in the lab is available on a first-come, first-served basis,” Hilary Kennedy, manager of the SMS, says.

According to the studio’s website, the three video editing suites can be reserved for up to four hours at a time.

The SMS houses two 3-D printers run by the lab’s staff. Students fill out an intake form online, staff process the forms and print out the requests. Turnaround time after a request is approved is a minimum of one week.

A student staff member is available to help students in the lab with the technology and answer questions while they’re working.

“We always have at least one student consultant in the lab at all hours,” Kennedy says.

Some of the smaller technology does not require students to be approved by staff before use. Leap Motion, Google Cardboard and the 3-D pen tools can be used any time the SMS is open.

Leap Motion is a gesture-based USB device that connects to a laptop and works similarly to the Kinect for Xbox One.

Photo by Sam Karam. Junior VCD student Nassiba Yakubova has worked in the multimedia lab for two years. She tries the “squirrel challenge,” which is where students trace the outline with a 3-D pen.

“Where Xbox Kinect recognizes your full body movements, this actually recognizes the intricate movements of your hands and fingers and the programs react to that,” Kennedy says.

A variety of free and paid apps can be obtained to use with Leap Motion. Apps range from interactive games to curricular anatomy applications.

Kennedy says Leap Motion partnered with Oculus, a virtual reality company, by attaching the Leap Motion device to the front of a virtual reality headset.

“Not only are you seeing these different worlds, but you can interact physically with them as well,” Kennedy says.

Kennedy plans to acquire emerging technology to add to the lab’s collection along with one or two new 3-D printers.

She encourages students to let staff know if they’ve heard of any technology they think would be a good addition to the lab.