Research in Virtual Environments Training, University of Santa Barbara, California July 2008

Dr. Gráinne Kirwan attended a five day seminar in using virtual environments for research from 14th-18th July 2008 in the University of Santa Barbara. There were a total of 12 attendees on the seminar, from Europe and America, and from a variety of backgrounds, including academic disciplines such as geography and psychology, as well as industry.

This was a very intensive training course, including workshops on several software applications, theoretical lectures, project work, and demonstrations of a variety of equipment, including head mounted displays (HMDs), position trackers, motion trackers, interface devices, augmented reality, and an AlloSphere (a 30 foot diameter sphere, three stories high, which projects three-dimensional images - see http://www.venturacountystar.com/videos/detail/allosphere0308/ for further information and a video of the AlloSphere).

During the training, there was opportunity to work on individual projects, and many attendees had developed complete environments ready for research projects by the end of the week. Dr. Kirwan developed an environment designed to give new third-level lecturers the opportunity to practice their presentations in front of virtual students. The lecturer is given options regarding how attentive the students are, and how many questions students ask at the end of the class. The training was supported by WorldViz (www.worldviz.com), a virtual reality hardware/software supplier, and many of the tutors had experience in both academic and industrial applications of virtual environments. The seminar was co-ordinated by Dr. Andrew Beall, an Assistant Research Professor at UCSB, who has invented key hardware and software components used in immersive virtual environments (http://www.psych.ucsb.edu/~beall/main.html).

Further details on the seminar and its content is available at http://www.unex.ucsb.edu/courses/virtual/

Story submitted by:

Dr Marion Palmer

21 August 2008