Exploring Virtual Reality

Exploring Virtual Reality

Using Virtual Reality to reduce costs

Although Virtual Reality (VR) has been around for over 20 years, the cost and limited functionality meant it never became main-stream. All this is set to change with the release of commercially available and affordable (around £250) enhanced VR headsets at the end of 2015. SHU has been working with companies to develop VR environments with early VR development kits to demonstrate novel ways of communication, training and cost reductions.

An example of this is the Oculus Rift, a reasonably priced (£250) VR headset that surpasses previous VR headsets and delivers on the promise of a totally immersive VR experience.

We predict that VR environments will become a ubiquitous medium in a similar way to how television has become a ubiquitous medium. Facebook has demonstrated their faith in this, as they recently purchased Oculus Rift for 2 billion dollars. This has unleashed multiple manufacturers such as HTC, Sony and Samsung all trying to capture part of this market.

Within C3RI we have found that the Oculus Rift has the ability to create an amazing sense of immersion, seemingly transporting people to a different place, giving them a sense of space and depth. The device covers the whole peripheral view, which means that as you look up, down or behind you are surrounded by this new, virtual environment.

C3RI has developed applications for the Oculus Rift since the first development kit was released. Some of these experiences are

  • Training in trauma surgery with the Ministry of Defence
  • Training amputees to use myoelectric prosthetics
  • Football Training Simulation

We have also created applications using similar technologies for large food companies

  • Marketing using Augmented Reality (Artificial information about the environment and its objects are overlaid on the real world) on a mobile phone
  • 3D visualisation of early designs of products shared across multiple sites worldwide

Using a VR or AR environment has the potential to save costs in areas such as

  • Training on production lines
  • Testing new designs without the need to manufacture moulds
  • Easier, more productive collaboration on the design of manufacturing parts
  • Human factors training

These applications can reduce travel and production costs due to the facilitation of remote teams and/or experiences.

This is one technology that really needs to be experienced to understand what makes it so special. A demonstration of VR using a myoelectric armband can be seen in this video.

Contact us for a demonstration of these systems and a discussion about how we could help to make your ideas a (virtual!) reality.

Shirley Lindley, Knowledge Transfer Manager
Tel: 0114 225 6747
Email: s.a.lindley@shu.ac.uk

Ivan Phelan, Lead VR Researcher
Tel: 0114 225 6955
Email: i.phelan@shu.ac.uk

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