AI: Risks and Opportunities

Dr. Liao, Dr. Brown, Pamela Singh,and Ben Williams were invited to give a talk at the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce on how AI is rapidly changing and how it is going to affect businesses. Business owners need to understand what’s to come with this emerging technology and how they can use this technology to their advantage.

MAR 03, 2023 - UH cullen College of engineering

CougAR Lab & UH Brain Center: The Possibilities for AR/VR as an Intermediary Perception Space

The Lab was invited to give a talk at the UH Brain Center, part of Cullen College of Engineering, about how EEG brain scans could help us understand what is happening when people are in virtual/augmented reality. As the College of Technology merges into the College of Engineering, the CougAR Lab, representing the former College of Technology, was thrilled to be one of the first to collaborate with its new colleagues. Stay tuned as many more exciting collaboration projects will be arising in the near future!

FEB 16, 2023 - City of sugar land city hall

City of Sugar Land Innovation Day

The Lab was invited to the City of Sugar Land city hall to display various headsets to employees and professionals involved in all areas of the city's projects. Attendees had a chance to explore what these emergent technologies offer and open themselves to the possibilities of introducing AR/VR into their line of work and experience how such technologies could benefit many of the processes and obstacles they face in their daily work.

City of sugar land site
FEB 10, 2023 - Baines middle school

CougAR Lab & UH Population Health: Exhibit Day at Baines Middle School

The Lab was invited to be a guest with UH Population Health at the 2023 Exhibit Day at Baines Middle School to display the Spatial VR room the CougAR Lab developed, spearheaded by Digital Media Senior Emilly Frausto, to promote population health. UH Population Health is a collaborative university-wide initiative to integrate population health into UH academics, build partnerships with multiple sectors and conduct innovative research.

Nov 5, 2022 - HOUSTON, TX

Tech Fest Live: The Premier Tech Event For Youth & Young Adults

The CougAR Lab joined several corporate leaders, entrepreneurs and students from Houston-area school districts at the Tech Fest Live Event. Held at The Ion technology hub, the event was created to educate and inspire youth about technology-industry careers and pathways.

AUG 29-31, 2022 - HOUSTON, TX

Industrial Immersive Week: Industrial XR Forum

The Lab was invited to be a guest at the 2022 Industrial Immersive Week! CougAR lab researchers got to try the latest HaptX Inc. gloves, Campfire 3D headsets, MACE Virtual Labs hardware, the platform, the Industrial Training International crane simulator, and much more. Special thanks to InnovateEnergy and the conference organizers for putting together this truly inspiring event and inviting us to connect with industry leaders. Join us in 2023!

MAY 26, 2022 - Paris, FRANCE

ICA 2022 Conference Talk: Yuhua (Jake) Liang Human Machine Communication Top Award Paper

Lab Director, Dr. Liao, and Assistant Professor of Emerging Media at the University of Florida, Kun Xu, won the Yuhua (Jake) Liang Human Machine Communication Top Award Paper with their paper titled "Is it Time for Augmented Reality Theory? Human Machine Communication when Humans Wear Machines", and gave a talk at the International Communication Association 2022 Conference in Paris.

MAY 20, 2022 - HOUSTON, TX

Emergent Tech Workshop at UH: Potential for AR/VR in Education

Lab Director, Dr. Liao, was invited to give a live demonstration about the potential for AR/VR in education to the UH Envisioning the Classroom of the Future Committee! Thanks to all the faculty who attended and the Provost’s Faculty Engagement & Development office for pushing innovative teaching ideas and methods. We are really looking forward to collaborating across departments and disciplines as we think about how to effectively integrate AR/VR technologies into the classroom.

MAY 5, 2022 - HOUSTON, TX

Web Seminar: Virtual Augmented Worlds Created By & Covered With Data

Lab Director, Dr. Liao, was invited to give a Web Seminar hosted by the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Data Science Institute about "VR/AR Worlds Created By and Covered with Data: While the development of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies were originally computer science topics, in the past decade their public availability and adoption is beginning to raise issues that intersect with data science, human computer interaction, psychology, media studies, artificial intelligence, communication and data ethics".


Q&A Session: Augmented (AR) & Virtual (VR) Realities

As emerging technologies prove to be a new trending topic, naturally, there's a lot of miscommunication about them. For people that joined the livestream event, Lab Director, Dr. Liao, answered questions and clarified much of the talk and rumors around augmented and virtual reality technologies. Visit our Twitch channel and follow us to make sure you don't miss any future talks!


April 15th, 2022

As emerging technologies seem to be a new trending topic, there's a lot of miscommunication about it. We are here to answer any questions you might have about augmented and virtual realities. Join our Livestream event on April 15th, 2022 @ 5 PM for a Q&A session about augmented (AR) and virtual (VR) realities. Come ready with questions for our speaker.

Time: 5 PM | Twitch Channel (cougARlab)
Speaker: Professor Tony Liao, Ph.D
Cost: FREE

twitch channel
press release

April 8th, 2022

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: “Transcend Your Reality.”– New CougAR Lab Researching Augmented and Virtual Reality Launches at UH

Sugar Land, Texas – April 8, 2022 – The CougAR Lab is the newest academic research lab at the University of Houston - Sugarland Campus conducting ground-breaking empirical research that advances our social and societal understanding of augmented, virtual, and mixed reality technologies.

“With some of the largest companies in the world like Apple, Microsoft, and Meta investing billions to build AR/VR devices, it is essential that we train researchers to better understand the effects of these technologies," said Dr. Tony Liao, Associate Professor at the university and founding director of the CougAR Lab.

The lab supports both research and teaching activities, with the Digital Media program offering a new course in AR/VR in Spring 2022, combining theory/research with practice/design, students learn about the latest applications and industries adopting the technologies and then are able to get hands-on experiences with the tools in the CougAR lab.

The lab launched with several research assistants already working on projects and is open to all UH undergraduate and graduate students interested in AR/VR. “There’s so much more we don’t know about AR/VR, whether it's how certain populations will react to virtual environments, how people/avatars will interact in these spaces, and how they will change our perceptions of place,” Liao said.

With over 500 majors in the Digital Media program, the new lab will help prepare students to be on the cutting edge of the field and introduce them to a technology they could implement in their future careers. In the future, perhaps more will be able to choose AR/VR as a specific career path: “I've had students whose research projects got them jobs at Meta Reality Labs. You are seeing more organizations put out positions for AR/VR content strategists, producers, and marketers, so we think there will be a lot of opportunities.”

As Sugar Land and the Greater Houston area are key technology hubs, the lab will hopefully be a site for public/private partnerships. The lab was recently spotlighted by the Fort Bend Economic and Development Council to highlight its commercial appeal. The lab is here to offer students and organizations help with any questions they might have with current or future AR/VR/XR projects.

Founded in 2022 by Dr. Tony Liao, the lab is based at the University of Houston, Sugar Land campus. The CougAR lab is unique in that it focuses on augmented reality technologies from a social science perspective, understanding how people utilize emerging technologies in everyday life, how they can affect people’s perceptions of place, and how the discussion surrounding emerging technologies shapes the development of the technology. The CougAR Lab’s mission is to conduct ground-breaking empirical research that advances our social and societal understanding of augmented, virtual, and mixed reality technologies.

Dr. Liao’s research has been published in academic outlets such as Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, New Media & Society, Information, Communication, & Society, Social Media & Society, Science, Technology, & Human Values, Mobile Media & Communication, Information and Organization, Journal of Virtual Worlds Research, Communication Studies, the International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality, the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (SIGCHI), Ethics and Information Technology, Journal of Communication Pedagogy, and First Monday. His work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Cornell’s Institute for the Social Sciences, and the Taft Foundation at the University of Cincinnati.

Lab Manager | Roneth Vargas Figallo | 832-671-2699 |