VR motion simulator to enhance educational experiences

RMIT University

Tuesday, 06 February, 2024

VR motion simulator to enhance educational experiences

A 360° rotating VR motion simulator for use with training, education and research has been unveiled by RMIT University.

The Eight360 NOVA Simulator is a two-metre-wide sphere simulator, operated by a single person in a VR headset. It tricks the brain with its ability to quickly rotate in any direction, while audio, visual and physical sensations make the experience feel real.

With its 360° motion replication capability, the technology provides a much closer simulation of ‘real life’. It also captures biometric data, such as eye-tracking, that can be used in conjunction with flight data from RMIT’s physical fleet to conduct deeper research and analysis.

The simulator will allow RMIT researchers to conduct more detailed scenario testing and investigation around pilot performance and open up a range of new possibilities for aviation research that drives innovation and improved safety and performance.

While aviation, aerospace and the ‘virtual vehicle’ are the obvious applications of this technology, Professor James Harland, Director of the STEM Centre for Digital Innovation, said the RMIT team is looking forward to finding new and exciting ways of using the simulator.

“It’s all about experimentation. This is cutting-edge stuff — we’re experimenting with immersive experiences and seeing where the less obvious applications take us,” he said.

“For example, we’ve just started looking at whether research into meditation could be enhanced by the simulator. Or, for teaching, could student learning be enhanced by a truly immersive tour of the throat and stomach to learn about digestion and nutrition?

“What happens if we use the simulator with other technology, such as motion capture suits and large video displays?”

The simulator can be tailored to different research and training applications created by staff and students.

The Deputy Director of the STEM Centre for Digital Innovation, Professor Michelle Spencer, was one of the first to give the simulator a whirl. She explained that it will allow students to learn new technologies and think creatively.

“The NOVA provides a more immersive and realistic user experience,” she said.

“I tried out the virtual vehicle app, developed within the centre, and the chair tilts when you drive up an embankment, for example, making it feel more like you are driving a car.”

Digital Solutions Architect Dr Ian Peake has been integral to setting up the Eight360 NOVA Simulator, which is housed in RMIT’s Virtual Experiences Lab.

“It has been a lot of fun to work with a large and diverse team to start creating experiences that will open doors for future RMIT students,” he said.

Image: Supplied.

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