An NSF-funded virtual reality project led by Dr. Christoph Borst uses high-performance networks to deliver virtual field trips of educational environments. Live-streamed 3D imagery allows students to see remote instructors directly in the immersive environment, allowing teachers to guide and assess students remotely. The project is also developing classroom-deployable VR stations through interface techniques tailored to affordable consumer devices and to classroom use.
A recent intercity demo connected instructors in Lafayette to VR users in Austin, TX over LONI (Louisiana Optical Network) and Internet2, at the 2016 Smart Cities Innovation Summit. The instructors, project collaborators from UL's MCHE department (Terrence Chambers and Kenneth Ritter), gave tours of a virtual energy center based on the real Cleco Alternative Energy Center in Crowley, Louisiana.
The demo received an award from US Ignite for its imaginative use of the gigabit networks. US Ignite is an initiative to spur next-generation gigabit networks and applications that have potential for significant societal benefit. US Ignite was initially supported by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science Foundation, and the US Ignite Partnership involves several major companies.
A video summary of the demo is featured on US Ignite's Youtube channel (see the video below). For more information about the virtual reality research at UL Lafayette visit http://web.cacs.louisiana.edu/labs/vrlab/.