This node diagram depicts the collaborative culture at Case Western Reserve University. Each dot represents an individual investigator, and more than 10,0000 collaborative grants link investigators across our campus. The IC endeavors to connect even more of these dots to find collaborative solutions to the complex challenges that face our world.

Culture of collaboration

The Interactive Commons represents one of the ways that Case Western Reserve University is working to establish a positive culture that motivates and rewards collaboration among disparate investigators to drive exceptional ingenuity in research and education. When two or more disciplines come together, unique leaps occur in the “in between.” Combining expertise overcomes roadblocks in technology, methodology and pedagogy to open up new avenues to innovation. Each intersection represents brilliant people brainstorming solutions without limits.

The IC fosters this vision by providing our collaborators with a fair, transparent and supportive administrative structure that facilitates their work together--a "thin" administrative structure that exists strictly to remove barriers and streamline collaboration. The structure of the Interactive Commons also will serve to curate innovative research networks and facilitate programming and resources to build cultural competency and enhance communication. 


The IC has established several key resources that will allow people to create and work with visual information. All of these are located in the new IC space, which can be accessed through a newly constructed entrance on the north side of the Thwing Building, next to the TInkham Veale University Center and the Kelvin Smith Library. Please contact us directly or come visit during our open events to learn more about these important resources.

Collaborative Visualization Wall

The centerpiece of the public-facing section of the new IC space is a large 24'x8' visualization wall. The high-resolution display wall supports connections from multiple devices simultaneously, including everything from mobile phones to powerful external computers. This visualization wall allows for seamless views into images with exceptional resolution, which opens up opportunities for discovery of patterns and features not possible on traditional computer screens. The technology also supports team science by allowing more than two or three collaborators to explore data simultaneously in a group setting.  In addition to the visualization wall, multiuse furniture (tables that can be reconfigured into desks/pods or removed to make room for rented auditorium-style seating) ensures this space will conform to a variety of creative purposes.

Microsoft Hololens

The Microsoft HoloLens blends the digital world with the real world through a headset that projects holograms into the wearer’s visual field for a highly realistic and immersive experience. The opportunities of this transformational technology must not be understated. We envision application for work, gaming, teaching and new ways to explore places we’ve never been—from distant planets to places in history. Case Western Reserve is slated to receive prototype HoloLens headsets to incorporate into the digital anatomy curriculum. The pilot space will provide a lab where programmers, faculty and students can collaborate to develop and test this technology. The space will accommodate programming and testing of two HoloLens devices simultaneously and provide ample clearance for testing and refinement of the device’s depth-sensing capabilities.

Microsoft Surface Hub

(Coming soon) An 84-inch Microsoft Surface Hub, located within the IC conference room, accommodates smaller groups and meetings in a more private setting. The technology combines traditional screen displays with virtual white board capabilities, where meeting participants can move around data, draw pictures and write notes. The technology is also geared for seamless remote collaboration through Skype and other video conferencing modules.

On-going Collaborations

Multiple research and education initiatives have emerged over the past year, representing boundary-spanning projects that would not exist without IC resources. These collaborations include:

Digital Anatomy Education
The School of Medicine, in partnership with Cleveland Clinic, is developing a digital anatomy curriculum featuring Microsoft HoloLens. Digital Anatomy collaborations are being discussed with the School of Dental Medicine and Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, as well.

Augmented Reality and “Apollo the Python-Slayer”
With Arts and Sciences Professor Jenifer Neils, the IC taught students the basics of 3D modeling, which they will use to digitally restore a bronze statue from the Cleveland Museum of Art to understand the statue’s original form and cultural context.

Big Data Visualization
Across campus, faculty members mine and manipulate Big Data for various purposes, from predicting disease with electronic health records, to making energy grids more efficient. The IC is helping to optimize Big Data displays in ways that allow humans to comprehend and capitalize on these data.

Astrophysical Simulations
Arts and Sciences Professor Chris Mihos researches how galaxies are structured by studying simulations of galactic collisions involving millions of stars. The IC is helping Mihos create dynamic 3D displays to enhance understanding of these complex models.

Interactive Virtual Polymer Models
Macromolecular Science and Engineering Professor and Chair David Schiraldi approached the IC to explore 3D imaging and visualization of polymers as a tool to help students understand material structures and how molecular systems interact. The IC plans to help develop a curriculum based on HoloLens to give young students an early start towards understanding the structure and function of polymers.

Visualizing Paleolithic Samples
Collaborating with the Institute for the Science of Origins Professors Glenn Starkman and Patricia Princehouse, the IC is working to generate interactive 3D models to analyze the evolution of Paleolithic skeletons and artifacts, such as the famous hominid fossil Lucy.

Urban Health Initiative
With the Urban Health Initiative, the IC is helping translate critical community data into compelling graphical representations to inform healthcare policy.

Computer Science and Visualization
The Case Western Reserve Virtual Worlds Gaming and Simulation Lab Director Marc Buchner is collaborating with the IC to encourage interaction among Electrical Engineering and Computer Science departments with students and faculty across campus to develop advanced visualization techniques, computer gaming hardware and software technology and virtual reality.

Surgical Innovations
Working with clinical colleagues, the IC is exploring the use of Microsoft HoloLens as a tool for pre-operative planning and to enhance intraoperative procedures by projecting medical imaging data onto the surgical field.

Modeling Grand Strategy
The Strategic Innovation Lab in the Weatherhead School of Management is partnering with the IC to develop data visualization tools, from macro models of the U.S. economy to municipal dashboards.

Want to collaborate too?

Please contact us or visit us during one of our open events.

Erin Henninger
IC Executive Director

Mark Griswold, PhD
IC Faculty Director