Posts tagged: Virtual Reality

The University of Salford’s THINKlab donate their MOBILISE digital platform for disaster risk reduction activities in Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Pakistan

Prof Terrence Fernando

After intensive research and development work over the last two years, the THINKlab team is now ready to release their first interactive digital platform to disaster management centres in Colombo, Sri Lanka; Sarawak State, Malaysia; and Peshawar, Pakistan.

The donation from the THINKlab is the MOBILISE digital platform which runs on a state-of-the-art multi-touch screen driven by a high-performance computer.  Agencies have the choice of using a web-based interface or a 3D virtual reality interface of the platform to explore and develop their risk reduction strategies. The software created and developed by the XR software engineers, the UX designers and researchers from the THINKlab combines seven main data categories (including built and natural environment, social information, land characteristics, hazards, real-time and remote sensory data) which segment a further 60 data layer and attributes to determine disaster risks.

This digital platform, developed as a part of the MOBILISE project, funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and UK Research and Innovation, will allow the disaster management centres to combine various vulnerable, exposure and hazards’ information from multiple agencies to establish a more holistic understanding of their local risks. In turn, this will enable them to work together to develop disaster risk reduction strategies to reduce the impact of natural disasters on the local communities, infrastructure and economy.   

The Director of the THINKlab, Professor Terrence Fernando stated: “It has been a challenging journey for developing a common approach and vision for our partner countries and bringing digital innovation to their current disaster risk reduction and disaster response activities. This is only a beginning of a long journey to transform current disaster risk reduction activities by various government organisations in middle-income countries. We are fortunate to have committed academic partners and government organisations in our project consortium who have worked with us to progress this far.”

Professor Fernando also added: “The feedback from various disaster management agencies and other government agencies has been extremely positive. We hope to make the MOBILISE platform available to other governments around the world very soon. I hope other research organisations will join us for creating bespoke environments for their local governments.”

Funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the MOBILISE project focuses on LMIC communities in Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Pakistan who are regularly affected by natural disasters such as flooding, landslides and earthquakes. 

The MOBILISE platform is targeted at helping various governments to implement the Sendai Framework Priority 1: ‘Understanding Risks’ and Priority 2: ‘Risk Governance,’ as established by the United Nations.

Led by the THINKlab Director, Prof Terrence Fernando, the project is developing a digital infrastructure which offers intelligence to multiple stakeholders who can work together to help reduce the impact of natural disasters on their local communities. Set up in May 2017, the project is to be completed in December 2020. For more information about the MOBILISE project.


The Festival of Research

The THINKlab: Addressing industry challenges through research, data and digital solutions.

We’re inviting you to learn more about how we’re creating digital solutions and advancing technology in Collaborative Engineering, Digital Cities and Virtual Training Environments. Through partnerships, collaboration and one-off projects, join us to understand more about the research and commercial team and their work which is addressing industry challenges.

Why and how do virtual engineering environments support team collaboration in the aerospace, railway, construction and energy industries and in space exploration?

How can digital city platforms create healthier, wealthier and safer cities?

See how virtual reality training environments exploit the power of gaming technologies to enhance learning through play.

Each event is 1 hour long with a 45-minute presentation followed by discussion. Events take place on Wednesday 19, 26 June, 3 and 10 July. Book your FREE place HERE


THINKlab show the value of VR collaboration at GameLab 2018

THINKlab show the value of VR collaboration at GameLab 2018

THINKlab show the value of VR collaboration at GameLab 2018

THINKlab’s enterprise team are excited to be exhibiting at this year’s GameLab event, which is part of the annual Manchester Science Festival, 2018.

Taking place at MediaCityUK on Saturday 20 – Sunday 21 October, GameLab is a playground for ideas and brings together developers and industry to showcase new research, products and thought-provoking activities.

Exhibiting on both days, THINKlab will display recent work they have co-created with Siemens UK and the Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust. Both projects will demonstrate the possibilities of real-time 3d graphics and how this can be applied in collaborative engineering and interactive learning environments.

Dr Simon Campion, Commercial VR Project Manager said: “We’re thrilled to be taking some of the work we’ve produced with Siemens UK and the Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust to the show and we’re really grateful for the opportunity.

For Siemens UK, visitors will be able to walk around an interactive Offshore Electrical Substation in real-time and learn how VR has been utilised from design through to product launch. This device will be using the Oculus Rift Headset offering a fully immersive experience. Don’t get too close to the edge and fall in the water!

The VR application we produced with Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust was really exciting and very unique. To achieve the final application we used digital terrain models, geo-mapping layers and drone and satellite data, to enable the user to experience the entire Upper Mersey Estuary. Areas that are difficult to access or even impossible to reach can now be clearly seen, as well as the local wildlife and ecology.”

THINKlab Director, Prof Terrence Fernando praised recent work projects: “Due to our success with several Innovate UK commercial projects, the Enterprise team has now grown to four VR experts in the THINKlab. This event is a great opportunity for us to showcase the pioneering VR work that the team has produced during the last few years that brought innovation within our industry partner organisations.”

In addition to the THINKlab’s commercial VR projects, the team will also be exhibiting a joint project created with the research team.  The Design4Energy VR application allows users to interactively design an energy efficient neighbourhood including road layout, house positions, placement of solar panels and wind turbines while in the background an algorithm works out how energy efficient the design is.

GameLab is a FREE event and open to all the family. It takes place on Saturday 20 & Sunday 21 October, 11am – 5pm at MediaCityUK campus, University of Salford, Salford Quays, M50 2HE.

 


THINKlab software engineer wins funding and industry recognition

Point Clouds used for demonstration courtesy of Transport for London

Point Clouds used for demonstration courtesy of Transport for London

Michal Cieciura, a Principal Software Engineer at THINKlab, has recently won a funding application from this year’s 2018 Unreal Development Grants.

The award is part of the larger $5m development grant by Epic Games which was founded in 2015 to help programmers and studios that are developing the Unreal Engine 4.

Michal is one of 37 winners from a variety of teams or individual creators, who received between $5,000 and $50,000 to support the development of their games, tools, broadcast and more.

His winning entry is a Point Cloud Plugin, a free plugin for Unreal Engine 4, which he has created to help with importing, processing and rendering point clouds. Currently, the software is in beta and supports desktop and VR platforms. It is already being used for a number of individuals, commercial and academic projects in architectural visualisation, construction & engineering, games & entertainment and landscape visualisation.

Michal said: “The plugin originated as a simple tool to aid in one of our in-house projects. I decided to make it a little bit more consumer-ready and release it for free on the Unreal Engine Forums. After it received surprisingly positive feedback, I continued improving it and started recording users’ ideas and suggestions for new features. This eventually led to the creation of a streamlined, standalone plugin which it currently is.

There have been many challenges to overcome throughout the work including performance and general handling of the huge data sets the point clouds often come in. It allowed me to acquire a more in-depth understanding of the different parts of the engine, which coincidently benefited other ongoing projects, both personally and in the THINKlab.”

THINKlab Director, Prof Terrence Fernando added: “We are so happy that Michal won this prestigious award from EPIC in recognition of his contribution to the gaming community. This is an indication of the quality of the VR team within the THINKlab.”

Michal was recently invited to an exclusive event in London which was part of Unreal Engine BuildLondon’18 for Architecture. The event showcased how real-time visualisation technology is being used across the architecture and construction industries, enabling architects and their clients to experience projects in full photographic quality and, if required, in mixed reality. The event took place at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in London and included a number of high profile speakers from leading agencies including Zaha Hadid, NVIDIA, Soluis Group, Garou VR and Heatherwick Studio.

Michal is the Principal Software Engineer at THINKlab working in the Enterprise Team. An experienced developer of interactive 3D environments, he has been instrumental in delivering a number of commercial projects for clients including Siemens, Network Rail and the BBC.  Outside of work, his personal interest include virtual reality, computer graphics, game engines and weightlifting!

Point Clouds used for demonstration courtesy of Dr Neil Entwistle, UoS

Point Clouds used for demonstration courtesy of Dr Neil Entwistle, UoS