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Immersive Digital Technology

What is Virtual Reality (VR)?

Modern virtual reality technology enables highly immersive simulated experiences which engage users with authentic virtual worlds. Specialist software is used to integrate digital surround sound and visual effects to produce VR environments through which users can explore, discover and learn. Since first appearing in the 1960’s, VR technologies have evolved to enable near real world human experiences. The advent of tools such as the ‘Oculus Rift’ and ‘HTC Vive’ have provided a step change in making VR technology highly user-friendly and economically accessible.

VR is hugely popular and well-established in the entertainment industries. The education sector is now quickly adopting VR technology through the utilisation of engaging, collaborative and cost-effective learning experiences.

VR provides multi-sensory learning experiences, reimagining normally mundane or monotonous tasks into exciting, gamified experiences. When applied in education and training, VR can improve workers’ skill and responses for both routine and emergency tasks by recreating task environments and settings otherwise difficult to replicate in real-world conditions.

Background analytics can assess, monitor and track users’ decisions and skills development in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Where industry training has oftentimes reverted to classroom/didactic teaching methods in order to ‘tick a box’, immersive technology provides an innovative avenue of re-engaging with people.

A core direction for health and safety training provision through VR is exposing workers to rare and highly chaotic situations, from a fully immersive first or third-person perspective, in entirely safe environments. These experiences can expose and prepare workers for incidents impossible to recreate in a classroom or mock training facility.

What is Augmented Reality (AR)?

AR reimagines traditional working spaces by projecting interactive digital objects into the real world, through small handheld devices such as mobile phones or tablets. A recent successful and well-known commercial application of AR technology is Pokémon GO, by which players’ experiences of ordinary streets or dull urban buildings are transformed into exciting and intriguing hunting grounds for Pokémon creatures. AR enhances the dissemination potential of digital applications, given that anyone with a hand-held camera device can make use of the technology. Any image (e.g. a print-out of the RFDS logo) can be programmed to act as a trigger that will prompt the overlay of digital information and experiences. The opportunities for engaging users and staff through the use of AR are endless.

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