This Department of Defense UARC Builds Holodeck-Style Innovations – and is Turning 25

Published: May 16, 2024
Category: News
An abstract graphic looking like a blue laser light on the horizon on a dark background.

In 1999, the US Department of Defense set up the Institute for Creative Technologies as a UARC (University Affiliated Research Center) to harness Hollywood-derived creativity with academic innovation and military-domain expertise. 


To make military training better, creating immersive systems to improve decision-making, build better leaders, and support the acquisition of other foundational skills. 

Well, that was the official mandate….

Unofficially, ICT’s US Army sponsors said: “Go build the holodeck!” 

And, 25 years later, that’s exactly what ICT has done

As in the fictional holodeck, ICT creates photo-real computer graphics and virtual environments, delivering synthetic and adaptive experiences, which are so compelling that participants respond as if they were real. 

Along the way, ICT has won two Academy Awards (Science and Technology) for innovations which have been used in more than 50 Hollywood movies including AVATAR and BLADE RUNNER 2049. 

Now ICT (part of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering) is opening up its 16 labs to show how it’s done, including: advanced HMD Displays; digital-based human performance apps; dynamic adaptive synthetic characters; VR-based exposure therapy (created for veterans); simulations to improve interpersonal skills; counter-terrorism strategy games; virtual human therapeutics; AI-Upskilling for next gen workforces; teaming with automated agents; ship simulators, and AI-powered digital doppelgangers inside its Light Stage

This is a unique opportunity to see where the future of holodeck-style innovations is going – and meet the awesome researchers who made it happen. 

If you’re a member of the Media, drop us a line at communications(at)ict(dot)usc(dot)edu to arrange a visit this summer.