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Portsmouth gets a new £5 million VR centre with various offerings

Portsmouth University has recently got a new virtual reality (VR) centre that has a wide range of tools and features usually utilised by producers and video game devs for creating top-notch virtual content. These have been made accessible for the use of business organisations.

The institution’s Centre for Creative and Immersive XR has gathered upwards of £5m in funding, which also includes a government grant of £3.6m. XR is one of the most innovative modern immersive technology forms that is gaining popularity around the world.

The brand new VR centre has a wide variety of state-of-the-art and premium grade technology available for use. The university is currently reaching out to businesses to utilise its VR arsenal for achieving their needs. They can rely on these for developing their own immersive features and products for consumers. This is also beneficial for the university as it will get to offer its students the chance to participate in some real-life projects.

The VR centre has an expansive list of offerings including  WhiteLight SmartStage. On this stage, viewers can witness incredible three-dimensional features including comprehensive digital worlds or 360-degree visuals. These visuals are powered by the highly popular and powerful Unreal engine, which was also the same one utilised for developing some of the scenery in The Mandalorian, one of the shows by Disney based on the Star Wars franchise.

There are many other offerings of the VR centre including technological offerings such as photogrammetry and motion capturing. With photogrammetry, users are able to scan and get scanned in 3D settings. Under the same roof, one can find the scan of the famed Southsea Castle, which is a 500-year-old fort originally built by Henry VIII.

The lack of sensation continues to be a major setback in the domain of virtual reality. But, certain developments like the Tesla suit have made it possible for wearers to get sensations such as rain, skin, or the wind. There are other offerings that can be explored at the VR centre.

Pippa Bostock, Business Director, University of Portsmouth, spoke to the BBC, saying that relying on extended reality technology has created greater sustainability. She emphasised that, as a result of this, businesses are able to host and become a part of events in the digital space, without needing to physically travel somewhere.

Bostock reflected on one of her experiences, remembering the time when she would have to offer a keynote address for the University of Michigan. She said that in some other time before VR, she would have to fly to the location, but she can now do the same from Portsmouth University’s virtual stage. Bostock also stressed that the technology is also useful for reducing carbon footprint.

XR or extended reality can also function as a vital training option for university students and has been used by the RAF in the recent past. VR is also finding wide use in a plethora of training workflows across various sectors.

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