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The Imaging Research Center creates a map of 1815 Baltimore

Nimasha Fernando

Summary: The UMBC IRC’s work was displayed at the Star-Spangled Spectacular event, representing the center’s novel projects with imaging technology.

    “You may not have heard of us, but you have probably seen our work,” reads the home page of UMBC’s Imaging Research Center (IRC). For UMBC students and anyone who attended the Star-Spangled Spectacular event in Baltimore, this statement may ring especially true.

The IRC is a state-of-the art research facility at UMBC which strives to create novel visual displays of knowledge for both the UMBC community and outside collaborators.

Researchers’ work was recently displayed at the Star-Spangled Spectacular event where the IRC presented the “BEARINGS of Baltimore, Circa 1815,” which conveys to viewers the historical prominence of Baltimore through a 3-D touch-screen and interactive modern medium.

“Our mission is [to] reinvent knowledge dissemination by implementing new transmedia technologies and experimenting with the language of visualization, art, design and storytelling,” states the IRC website.

Fulfilling this mission, the BEARINGS — or Bird’s Eye Annotated Representational Image/Navigable Gigapixel Scene — project composed of over 2.5 billion pixels and approximately 50,000 tiles invites users to tour historical Baltimore, emphasizing the “Hotspots” or locations especially significant to events of the War of 1812.

“This is a perfect combination of cutting edge technology and the amazing historic resources from our library and museum,” said Burt Kummerow, Maryland Historical Society President and CEO in an announcement, referring to the IRC’s utilization of numerous historical documents to construct optimally accurate depictions of Baltimore.

“This is the closest we can get to a time machine to ‘see’ how Baltimore looked 200 years ago,” said Tamara Peters, IRC Primary Researcher and Project Lead, in a Maryland Historical Society article.

Located on the first floor of the ITE building, the IRC is largely unknown to UMBC students. The center collaborates with numerous departments and external organizations to create interdisciplinary projects, penetrating fields as diverse as social justice, public health and experimental theater.

“I don’t know what they are…no one knows what they do” said Jenna Wade, UMBC sophomore political science major, further commenting on the mysterious nature of numerous IRC projects.

“We have worked with neuroscientists, trying to help them convey the power of the brain…And we built an X-box game that allows people to understand their own cognitive strengths and how to use them working with other people with different cognitive strengths” said Lee Boot, Associate Director of the UMBC IRC, on the IRC website.

“We work with NASA to help the general public understand our place in the universe” said IRC Director Dan Bailey on the IRC website.

The IRC also offers various academic research positions to undergraduates, permitting them to gain relevant experience in the interdisciplinary nature of imaging technology work.

“We want to impact the twenty first century by training excellent researchers” said Bailey on the IRC website.

“It seems like an excellent way for undergrads to gain research experience with imaging” said Lingzi Ouyang, sophomore biology major at UMBC.

“We humans create images to make sense of the world and how we live in it” said Bailey on the IRC website. “We’re always learning, mastering, configuring, reconfiguring, the latest technologies to allow an audience to experience knowledge in fresh ways.”


“About.” IRC. UBC, n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2014.

“An Interactive View of 1812-era Baltimore:.” Maryland Historical Society. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2014.

Kummerow, Burt. “The Star-Spangled Spectacular Issue.” Maryland Historical Society. N.p., 3 Sept. 2014. Web. 19 Sept. 2014.