10 September 2018

Trainingscapes at the EU40 BBQ

MedtechEurope CEO Serge Bernasconi tries out Trainingscapes

David and Nash headed over to Brussels last week at the invite of MedTechEurope which was sponsoring the annual EU40 BBQ and wanted to show MEPs how innovative technology such as VR is being applied in the medical and health arena.

EU40 is the platform of young Members of the European Parliament and of the 28 EU national parliaments. Their mission is to serve young Members under the age of 40 and strengthen their role inside the European Parliament by adding aesthetics, fun and fresh ideas to European politics!

MedtechEurope started as an alliance in October 2012 formed by two organisations - EDMA, representing the European in vitro diagnostic industry; and Eucomed, representing the European medical devices industry. MedTech Europe engages with EU regulators, politicians and other decision-makers to help shape policies to promote innovation for our growing healthcare needs and expectations. Its aim is to encourage policies that help the medical technology industry meet Europe’s growing healthcare needs and expectations. It also promotes medical technology’s value for Europe focusing on innovation and stakeholder relations, using economic research and data, communications, industry events and training sessions. MedTech Europe’s mission is to make innovative medical technology available to more people, while helping healthcare systems move towards a sustainable path.

Despite the torrential rain during set-up we had a great time letting attendees work through a version of the Diabetes training application that we've just done for Bournemouth University. We also had the same app running on an iPAD to show that VR headsets aren't mandatory. We also had some pharma data in 3D on Datascape running on Google cardboard to show another use of the VR technology.

All in all a great evening, and our thanks to MedTechEurope for inviting us.

5 September 2018

Virtual Avebury drawing to a close

(image posted on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10213810222462658&set=p.10213810222462658&type=3&theater by Brett Cullen)

The run of Virtual Avebury has now come to an end, although we are doing a bit of direct remote public access to the VR experience - more details to follow.

There have been over 100,000 views of the video of Avebury in Fieldscapes on the National Trust Avebury Facebook page, and well over 500 physical users of the VR experience on site, and even some fan-art!

There were two VR rigs on-site so users could go in and see each other and follow each other round. The kids visit with their parents during the school holidays just loved this, playing virtual tag between the stones. And then whey they discovered that you could fly as well!

Liz and the team from Bournemouth University are now writing the project up and we'll share the results with you as soon as we can.

3 September 2018

Fieldscapes is off to the West Midlands BIS Space Day

In support of World Space Week Daden is taking Fieldscapes to the British Interplanetary Society (BIS) West Midlands Space Day in Worcester on 6 Oct. We'll have our existing Apollo 11, Mars Exploration and Solar System experiences and hopefully a few new ones.

Details at https://www.bis-space.com/2018/01/16/20116/space-day-2018 and https://www.facebook.com/events/657550341300272/?active_tab=discussion.

Hopefully see you there!

29 August 2018

Museum Thresholds - Using VR and 3D in support of museum and gallery design

Daden MD David Burden contributed a chapter to this recently published book ‘Museum Thresholds: The Design and Media of Arrival’ on the design of museum, gallery and other public building threshold spaces. The book is published by Routledge and edited by a team from the School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester.

The book came out of a fabulous collaborate and creative project funded by AHRC on Transforming Thresholds. The book is a celebration of not just the potential of the museum threshold itself, but of the creative power that comes from thinkers, designers and creators bringing their interdisciplinary skills together.

David's chapter focuses on the 3 Ring Model of 3D models that was developed out of Daden's work on the Virtual Library of Birmingham project.


For the next 60 days you can read the book on-line for free at https://rdcu.be/4fpn.


Some images used in the book are shown below.

The Virtual Library of Birmingham - built 2 years before the physical opening

The central atrium in the model

The central atrium 2 years later in the physical build

Exploring the Virtual Library in an early Oculus Rift DK1

19 July 2018

Virtual Avebury in the News

We're getting some good coverage of our Virtual Avebury project with the National Trust, Birmingham University and Satsymph (and funded by AHRC and EPSRC):

BBC Wiltshire (46min in) :  https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06bt1rq#play

"I've been visiting Avebury for 50 odd years this will change my whole perspective - it's extraordinary"

"I'll never look at Avebury again the same way"

"I feel I know Avebury really really well .. it's certainly told me something about Avebury I didn't know."

"Without the buildings you get a real sense of scale, the physical size of it compared to the human frame, they must have felt so tiny"

"It [i.e. the modern environment cluttered by the buildings]  doesn't have the emotional power of what I just saw transmitted to me"

Marlborough News: http://www.marlboroughnewsonline.co.uk/news/7829-virtual-reality-offers-a-new-perspective-on-avebury

There's also a good description of the project on the National Trust web site at https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/avebury/features/experience-a-virtual-reality-avebury.

There is also some really good data about immersion and the use of immersive 3D/VR to support heritage experiences coming out of the public engagement research which we'll report on later.

27 June 2018

OculusGo - Best all-round VR option so far?

We've had our OculusGo for a few days now and I must admit we're impressed. Whilst the visual quality may not be as good as the tethered versions, there seems to be a bit of chromatic aberration and even a bit of light leakage the overall experience is probably the best yet. The reasons:

  • It's totally self contained, no tethers or trying to slot your phone in, just pick up and go
  • It's lighter and more comfortable that the Rift or Vive tethered headsets
  • It's price (£199 for 32GB, £249 for 64 GB) knocks the Gear VR and tethered headsets out the park, and is viable for a consumer purchase
  • Users seem less susceptible to motion sickness - whether due to reduced latency or just a better overall experience is not clear.
  • The controller has just enough buttons to be useful and not too many to be confusing.

The uses of a second phone for configuration works reasonably well but a) you have to reset the whole device to move between users/phones, and b) its not to clear from the phone what is loaded on the headset or playing on it.

The range of experience we've tried so far have been quite limited, point and move 3D spaces with fairly cartoony graphics, 3D video photospheres, so it will be interesting to see what it's like once we get Fieldscapes on it (Nash says "a couple of days") or with some more demanding apps.

One thing that really surprised us though was how much we missed 6 degrees of freedom movement ( aka 6DOF, i.e  the headset responding to lateral moves rather than just pan/tilt/yaw). In the Anne Franke's house where there was only waypoint movement you just naturally leaned forward to peer at what was on the table, and we were so used to that working with the Rift that too lose it seemed really odd. Given that we've only had it in the Rift for a couple of years it's surprising just how used to it we've got. There are a few third-party solutions (e.g. Antilatency - althouhg it does need a special floor as well as a camera, and could cost more than the Go!). Guess we'll just have to wait for Santa Cruz!

We'll post again once we've got Fieldscapes in there.

9 April 2018

Daden U Day: GeospatialAR - Take 2

I spent the latest DadenU day doing some more work on the AR app I started last time. Like the recent OS feature this is a geospatial AR app, so it puts markers in your smartphone viewscreen which align with real world objects. As you pan around you see different objects, and if you move to a new location all the markers track the objects they are pointing at.

The driver for the project is a personal "need" to have such an app to support battlefield walks, but we can also see some commercial potential for it, as well as more formally exploring the battlefield tours angel with the Battlefields Trust of which I'm a member.

In the latest session I focussed on bring the data in from the web, rather than having it hard coded within the app. This meant developing a JSON format for the data, doing a fetch by web service request, and then feeding the data to the existing plotting routine.

Getting my head around JSON took a fair amount of time, I much prefer, XML, and most of the rest was fairly trivial. Where I got stuck at the end though was creating a dynamic drop down of the available locations based on the files on the web server - will have to ask one of our pros how to do that!

Over the next couple of months I hope to work it up to a full blown demo based on a real battlefield, and then we'll see where we can take it.