UAA’s AI lab features student accessible augmented reality glasses, a chess robot and other AI devices

Rasmuson Hall room 313 has multiple AI related devices. Students are encouraged to participate in the opportunity to learn about AI while utilizing the lab.

Chess robot in ADSAIL. Photo by Hannah Dillon

This story is a part of The Northern Light’s investigative series into AI in education, which follows different groups at UAA and their experience with AI.

The Alaska Data Science Artificial Intelligence Lab, or ADSAIL, is a relatively new room dedicated to various AI equipment testing in Rasmuson Hall room 313.

The lab is easy to pass, as it is tucked behind the left side corner on the third floor of Rasmuson Hall. The perimeter of the lab is filled with AI related equipment surrounding sectioned off areas of the room. A large conference table acts as the centerpiece of the lab with an overhanging TV.

The lab was opened in 2019, and incorporates AI elements into multiple augmented reality devices such as holo-lens, eye trackers, a VR headset and a chess playing robot.

In an interview with The Northern Light, Business and Public Policy and ADSAIL co-director Dr. Helena Wisnieski and ADSAIL Manager Maksim Chepurko demonstrated the lab and equipment.

The most popular piece of equipment in the lab is the augmented reality holo-lens, and for good reason. The augmented reality headset is similar to regular see-through glasses when applied.

The holo-lens had a small but powerful selection of apps. Students can play the piano, explore the solar system and examine the human body through an anatomy app.

Various in-game mechanics appear as part of your actual world. Buttons show up on your skin and planets can take up the area in front of you.

The augmented reality glasses have graphics that are similar to VR headsets, but take it a step further into virtual realism. Users can click buttons on their wrist as if it were a touch screen, choosing what to do with the tip of a finger instead of a controller.

An immediate eye-catcher in the lab is the chess playing robot. The robot has a server on a connected computer that uses AI to see the chess board and play the game. A singular “arm” extends to pick up a white or gold chess piece in response to its human competitors.

Chepurko did not create the chess playing robot, but he did spend many months in the lab installing all of the software, preparing the calibration process and adjusting the angles of the arm for the robot to be functional in the lab. Wisnieski mentioned no one has beat the robot in a game yet.

ADSAIL has multiple eye trackers – two are currently working, and one is on display. The displayed eye tracker is one of the first ever versions made and UAA is attempting to revive the device, according to Chepurko.

The eye trackers are able to calibrate to each user's eyes, offering accurate tracking. The two available eye trackers also have a game installed to test out accuracy.

Wisnieski explained that eye trackers are used in retail marketing, so they know what catches the customer’s eye through examining what the customer looks at when shown an ad.

A large corner of the room is sectioned off with black and yellow tape for a wide area to use the VR headset. Right now, anyone can explore Google Earth in VR, but more games may be added in the future.

There is also a large screen on which students can connect their personal computers and work on group projects together.

Along the walls are posters for past webinars that have taken place at UAA. One of these webinars included the Chief Data and Artificial Intelligence Officer David Johnson, who was a part of using AI to help create the Covid-19 vaccine.

Any UAA student is allowed to use the lab, and can email Chepurko at or Wisniewski at for access to the equipment room.

Chepurko can assist in demonstrating how to use the equipment if someone is not familiar.

After their first visit, students can request to have Wolfcard access to the lab.

No items found.