The University has today (Thursday 13th June) launched a new centre designed to harness the power of immersive technologies, to upskill the next generation and push the boundaries in research and education.
The Centre for Immersive Technologies will be based within the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics at the University of Leeds. It will help connect world-leading researchers with partners from the public and private sectors to accelerate innovation and place people at the heart of the new immersive technology revolution.
Over 80 researchers from a range of University subjects will focus on five priority areas – health, transport, education, productivity and culture.
Professor Mark Mon-Williams, from the University of Leeds’ School of Psychology is Director of the new Centre for Immersive Technologies. He said: “Immersive technologies are a game-changer that will impact on every area of our lives, transforming how we live, work and play.
“This new centre will help ensure that the next technological revolution is harnessed for the benefit of society. By working with a wide range of partners, from technology companies and hospitals to museums, we are ensuring that the work carried out by researchers in Leeds is making a real difference to the world.”
Virtuocity will form a key facility for the Centre for Immersive Technologies. Already home to the University’s driving and truck simulators, Virtuocity uses immersive VR to conduct research that can improve the design of urban transport and city systems.
Unveiled today as part of the Centre launch is Virtuocity’s new Highly Immersive Kinematic Experimental Research (HIKER) lab – the largest 4K resolution pedestrian simulator in the world.
The HIKER lab allows participants to interact with virtual urban environments and vehicles without the need to wear any VR equipment. Virtuocity’s three simulation laboratories – driving, truck and pedestrian – will be connected to create a single “multi-player” environment enabling researchers to address complex questions including how driverless vehicles will interact with their passengers and with pedestrians.
Professor Richard Romano, Chair in Driving Simulation and academic lead for Virtuocity at the University, said: “Immersive technologies are already at the heart of a range of University research. As part of the new centre, Virtuocity provides the technology and expertise to explore and test real-world scenarios using human-centred design methods to inform the future of urban mobility, transport and city planning.”
Breadth of research
In addition to the future of transport, highlights of the Centre include:
In addition to the academics who have joined the Centre, two artists in residence have been appointed, Christophe DeBezenac and Dave Lynch, and a poet, Dr Kate Fox, who recently completed her PhD at the University. Their goal is to spark conversations between different practices, prompting researchers to ask critical questions and take fresh approaches, while the artists are inspired to create exciting new pieces of work.