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The Potential of VR for UK Higher Education

Group Report: Applications

Introduction to the Group Work

The kinds of issues identified for this group are: novelty of the application;

We will be trying to amalgamate, structure, and perhaps prioritise, the issues brought to the workshop.

Possible recommendations include:

would it be helpful to have affordable courses on VR, and, if so,

Roger Hubbold, University of Manchester

Group Discussions

Roger Hubbold reported on the main points which emerged from the discussion in the applications group.

The group discussed the issue: is VR really useful?

There is a problem with the current state of the art in that users really need to be programmers. As a result, the development times are lengthy and thus much more time is spent developing than evaluating (90/10 balance was suggested as being typical). There is a real need for "non expert" systems.

With the current state of VR technology the benefits are perceived rather than quantifiable. It was felt that waiting until the benefits could be quantified would be damaging to UK industry and HE. In order for UK industries to keep up with progress and maintain their competitive edge, it is vital that students are taught to integrate VR techniques with their other tools in computer graphics, visualization and multimedia.

The perceived benefits are seen as being:

End users are however sceptical at this stage and need to be shown that the technology can be effective and under what circumstances. Good case studies are needed. It is not clear that we can deliver at this stage.

There is a need to provide access to the technology:

There is a need to provide access to the data:

Software Issues:

The use of VR needs to be an integral part of the application if the technology is to succeed. Data needs to be altered and exported back within the system. Data integrity and version control are issues here.

Educating the Next Generation

Other issues include IPR.

There is also a concern that too many things are called "VR". We need to move to an application focus.


Following further discussion within the group, the following recommendations were made:
  1. Conduct an evaluation of software

    There is a need for an evaluation of systems. This would provide a wealth of timely information for the community. There is unlikely to be a single solution to solve all problems but there may be some systems where we should be looking to obtain a CHEST agreement. Any evaluation needs to consider:

  2. Conduct a series of application studies

    These should build on other work already underway or completed.

  3. Involve UK HE in definition of standards e.g. PREMO, VRML2, ...
  4. Develop a guide to good a practice including ethical issues
  5. Recommend to TASC (JISC Technology Applications Committee which oversees JTAP) the funding of some VR application studies - we need to see how VR can be integrated into applications
  6. VR Club (initially by EPSRC?) to organise workshops etc...
  7. Collect exemplar applications and "object" libraries perhaps through CTI centres
  8. Set up a VR training and education centre with short travelling courses - ideas based on successful JISC models for visualization through AGOCG and NTI/HPC training and education
  9. Production of generic training materials, e.g. related CHEST packages
  10. EPSRC programme to investigate integration of models and VR
  11. Support for inter-disciplinary research with VR (computer science, cognitive, user disciplines..) within EPSRC and between Research Councils

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