Animation student at workThe Allen School has four main labs that are engaged in research spanning the areas of computer graphics, vision, augmented/virtual reality, visualization, animation, and game science: the Graphics and Imaging Lab (GRAIL), the Reality Lab, the Center for Game Science, and the Animation Research Labs. This area of research is highly collaborative, and many of our students benefit from advising by two or more faculty members as well as the opportunity to engage with experts in their respective fields. Our work has been covered extensively in the print and television media. Our alumni have gone on to prestigious faculty positions at Carnegie-Mellon, Cornell, Toronto, and others, or obtained sought-after positions at top industry labs.


The GRAIL group is known for ground-breaking research in computational photography, games for science and education, 3-D reconstruction, Internet photo collections, object recognition, human shape and motion analysis, information visualization, and animation. In addition to benefiting from the expertise of our core faculty members, our students interact with world-class researchers from Microsoft Research, Adobe, Intel, and Google. Recent projects include Moving Portraits, which generates face animations of a person from large image collections and has been widely deployed as the “Face Movies” feature in Google’s Picasa, and Illumination-Aware Age Progression, which automatically renders images of a child’s face at multiple ages throughout his/her lifetime.

UW Reality Lab

The UW Reality Lab brings together researchers to focus on augmented and virtual reality in order to advance the state-of-the-art and to educate the next generation of researchers and practitioners. Founded in 2018, it supports diverse research projects in the areas of computer vision, computer graphics, display optics, 3D reconstruction, lightfield rendering, accessibility, character animation, input devices, and more. Other ongoing programs include an idea incubator, courses, The Reality Studio, and The Reality Lab Lectures. Examples of work from UW Reality Lab Researchers include: Soccer On Your Tabletop, a system for turning 2D video of sports matches into 3D AR experiences, a Near-Eye Visor design that projects onto a micron-scale thick metasurface to allow a greater field of view; and an inexpensive way to turn a 2D tablet into a 3D display device.

CGSBill Gates on stage at FoldIt game presentation

Researchers at UW CSE's Center for Game Science use gaming to solve grand challenges, crowdsource human problem-solving to aid scientific discovery, and improve student interest and achievement in mathematics. Noteworthy projects include Foldit, the award-winning game that has engaged more than 100,000 players around the world in helping scientists to understand the 3-D structure of proteins to combat viruses such as AIDS and Ebola, and Nanocrafter, a game that enables players to build nanoscale machines using small pieces of DNA to advance synthetic biology research.


Animation Research Labs is a multi-disciplinary effort that brings together faculty and students from the Allen School, the Department of Architecture, and the Schools of Art, DXARTS, Drama, and Music.The ARL is focused on advancing the state-of-the-art in animation through teaching, research, and computer-animated production in collaboration with experts from Disney Animation Studios, Bungie, Industrial Light & Magic, Microsoft Game Studios, Pixar, and many others.