UNC Theatre Professor Wins NSF Grant To Make People Look Good On Zoom

David Fillmore, a lighting designer for both theatre and dance, with experience of over 200 designs nationally and internationally, knows how to make people look good — on a stage or a screen. With a 2022 Innovation Corps grant from the National Science Foundation, he may soon bring that skill, and the technology that goes with it, to a Zoom meeting near you.

He came up with the idea for the Webcam Lighting Studio, a portable package of lights, plus equipment and software that range from simple DIY kits for the person who wants to look good for a virtual conference presentation to a sophisticated package that comes with a professional lighting designer.

He took his idea to the University’s Ventureprise program in fall 2021, where he said “the customer discovery process really opened up the possibilities” for his project. Finding a technical lead in Professor Asis Nasipuri, chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the industry mentor Dana Hicks, of Launch LKN, he applied for the NSF I-Corp grant and has received $50,000 to further develop his product.

In addition to receiving funding support, Fillmore and his team, which includes engineering graduate student Karen Gonagur, will participate in I-Corps workshops throughout this fall.

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