The recent rapid expansion in devices that enable immersive experiences in virtual reality (VR) has led to a real upsurge in interest, not just amongst gamers, but across a wide range of users of VR in industry and education. The Virtual Reality World Congress will be held in Bristol on 12th April – a great opportunity to interact with the developers of exciting new technologies, and the technologies themselves. We’ll definitely be there! We write about VR a lot on this blog, as it’s a significant area of research and development interest for UWE. The University has some great examples of using virtual education techniques in health sciences, law, finance, psychology, architecture and forensics, just as examples.
The forensics virtual crime scene, developed by Dr Carolyn Morton, Maddie Edwards, Manuel Frutos-Perez and me, is one example of augmenting learning through using virtual technologies that demonstrates their potential. At UWE we have a full, physical crime scene house, where students can undertake simulated forensic investigations of crimes; a really great way for them to learn. But the physical crime scene takes time to set up and change, so the virtual simulations are an added opportunity for more practical experience that can be used at any time to help the students to hone their investigation skills. Below is a short video where Carolyn takes us on a walk-through of one of the virtual simulations, from the scene of the crime to the courtroom.
There are 2 more simulations for the students to choose from; Carolyn works closely with police and forensics services and the crime scene simulations are based upon similar real cases.
My latest project is a virtual reconstruction of the Neolithic stone circle of Avebury Henge in Wiltshire, U.K., as it is likely to have appeared circa 2,300 BCE. I’ll be working with history and heritage students at UWE later this year to explore how these kinds of reconstructions might enable us to experience these ancient sites in a way that is impossible in the modern-day physical world. At the moment I’m ditch-digging (without hurting my back!) and the video below is a brief demonstration of how that is done in a virtual environment. The unfolding story of this project will be told on my blog “Ancient and Virtual” so please feel free to take a look.
So, I can’t wait to go to the VR conference on the 12th April to see all the new developments in VR devices!