Research IT

Fantastic Voyages in a Virtual World

Data visualization, virtual reality (VR) and mixed/augmented reality (MR/AR) technologies offer exciting opportunities for researchers to explore and understand their research data. Prominent in the news and rapidly evolving, the technology is finally having a massive impact. Research IT has identified this as a largely untapped potential within the research environment and is now formally announcing vDAL - The Visualization And Data Analysis Laboratory.

vDAL is a bookable space where researchers can access VR, MR, mobile devices and high-end graphics workstations for testing, prototype development and collaboration with Research Software Engineers. Equipment includes the HTC Vive headset, Google Pixel and Daydream VR, Google Cardboard, zSpace AR Workstation and a high-end dual GPU workstation with touch and 4K displays.

Each device comes with a catalogue of applications and demos to try out, all demonstrating a range capabilities and experiences: interactivity vs passive viewing, graphical fidelity and realism vs simplicity; all in areas such Health, Education, Tourism, Surgery, Theatre, Exhibitions, Mental Health, Space Exploration, Manufacturing, Crime Reconstruction and many more. Come and try educational voyages through human anatomy, life inside a prison cell or play fetch with a robotic dog!

The service runs within the well-established Research Software Data and Engineering team, building on existing support for researchers which provides excellence in research driven software engineering and best practice. The addition of the vDAL facility and its key technologies means the team is well placed to assist in exploration of data visualization and immersive experiences.

There are several groups on campus looking at similar technology across multiple application areas and there is a great opportunity to build a cross-campus collaboration and communication network, which is especially useful when dealing with new and ever-changing technologies and demands.

Louise Lever and Josh Woodcock will be presenting an introduction to the new vDAL facility and exploring ideas for collaboration at the next Research IT Club on the 13th February. Registration for this event is now open.

To book the vDAL for testing or prototyping, or to discuss the viability of using VR/MR in your research, please get in touch with us!