Category Archives: Education

Sansar Open Beta: Deserving to Succeed

I‘m writing this post in recognition of the efforts by Linden Lab, the creators of Second Life, to bring multi-user 3D environments to content authors in a form that is both accessible and scalable. They’re making this vision a reality through their new platform, Sansar. I also think it important to provide some context of what has come before in the genre. Along with how, despite barriers like technical literacy in the general population, non-standard hardware configurations and general skepticism, they have succeeded in carrying their vision forwards. It’s very easy to sound like an authority on a subject when all one need do is cite the many examples of failure a particular endeavour has […]

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Demonstrating Virtual Reality at the University of Hertfordshire

It’s not often that we get the chance to demonstrate what we’re working on as, in education, it’s more about the finished product and conclusions. Nevertheless, during the HEaTED East of England network event , we were given the opportunity to allow people to wonder around a bespoke 3D environment while using our HTC Vive headset and touch controllers. We used the controllers themselves to emulate the functional behaviours of a smartphone. The reactions were all positive and I managed to have chats with some senior managers about where it is we’re hoping to take our vision for VR at the University. You can find a brief video depicting the space below: The idea was […]

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HTC Vive Commercial Release – First Impressions

Shortly after receiving our HTC Vive, I rushed to set everything up in a bid to sample the delights of the virtual reality applications available through Steam. For those of you unfamiliar with Steam, it’s an online content distribution service, initially set up for gaming but has since diversified its offerings in a bid to reach out to wider audiences. We’re hoping to improve the student experience by creating engaging visual content for use in our concept classrooms and the promise of virtual reality in this area is quite something. Unboxing the headset and its accompanying assortment of wires made me wonder how portable a solution the Vive could be. Much of what we do […]

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The Logistics of Virtual Reality and Thunderbolt 3

The end game for many technologies involves integrating seamlessly with our being, turning us into space-dwelling cyborgs. The problem is that while the process of miniaturization is always in motion, there will always be a suite of technologies on the fringe which have yet to undergo such optimization. That’s to say, they usually start out in something of a clunky state. Virtual Reality headsets are such things, they are new, large and cumbersome. While the phone-based experiences made popular by the Gear VR hold promise (in that it is a lightweight solution without wires) it remains expensive. Upgrading to a new phone is also problematic. When all one needs is a faster GPU, the only […]

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Experiments with Photogrammetry

Photogrammetry is the means by which a 3D model can be constructed using photos as the sole input. It’s used extensively in archaeology to document artifacts in such a way that it allows specimens and sites to be explored in great detail without fear of having the original crumble into dust upon touch. I recently made a post about the visual fidelity of a game called the Vanishing of Ethan Carter, the game is beautiful and the studio responsible for it made extensive use of photogrammetry in their workflow. The problem with using it in gaming is that a lot of editing is needed to make the art assets fit for purpose. The geometry needs […]

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3D Land Law

Visual approaches to teaching aren’t that prevalent in mediums as text heavy as law, though an opportunity for creativity made itself available to me recently. A lecturer from our school of law approached me with a view to enhancing a sketch he had made with a 3D representation. The work is now being used by students in the classroom environment as well as online. Due to some time constraints, there were limits on we could achieve with this. I decided the best use of our time would be to work with Google Sketchup. The current state is shown in the videos below. The idea is that students are able to navigate the scene by downloading […]

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Unity 3D realistic terrain data

In my quest to model a believable glacial environment, I’ve resorted to using real-world terrain data. It used to be that I would sculpt terrain by hand and rely on perlin noise generators to produce something from which I could use as a base. The video below shows some of the things I’ve been working on and offers a bit more of an explanation. The difficulty comes with having to make the scene explorable form a first person perspective. By and large, terrain data doesn’t allow for high enough detail to make this achievable. There is still a lot of work to be done by way of manually adding erosion and creating some textures for […]

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Implicit Learning and Information Bandwidth

This is the link to the original blog post made I made on our team site at the Learning and Teaching Innovation Center, University of Hertfordshire. Something as nebulous as the notion of an ‘information age’ is perhaps best described by metaphor. Imagine, if you will, a raging river within the centre of which stands a protruding rock. Through erosion, this rock is shaped by the forces of an unrelenting torrent which it is unable to control and eventually its identity, insofar as it has one, will succumb to the ‘chaos’ of its surrounding environment. It is, without a doubt, overly dramatic but serves to communicate the principle that, every day of our lives, we […]

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3D Glacial Hydrology

I’ve posted this for posterity, it’s one of the projects I completed during my master’s and is a tool I’ve put together in order to assist with teaching glacial hydrology. That’s the science of how water passes through those massive ice giants which carve their paths through mountains as they shift with forces so great it changes the shape of our planet. It’s likely that we will not be seeing these spectacles in a few decades as we’re rapidly seeing them vanish due to climate change. There are places where they’re reformed but, for the most part, they’re being lost. The project is a tribute to their magnificence. Apologies for the half-hearted narration in the […]

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Health and Saftey Training Environment (Unity 3D Prototype)

Yet another project I’m working on, this time a health and safety training environment for the University of Hertfordshire. The purpose of this particular app is to allow the staff to assess the ability of potential employees to spot dangerous situations in the office environment, things like low chairs, wires trailing across the floor, screen glare etc… I’m going to try and keep the polycount low on this one as it’s going to be delivered via a web browser and you can never tell how fast another user’s machine is. To that end, I’ve allowed the user to switch between quality settings and might make some super low poly models for the ultra low setting. […]

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