Ready Player One: Lincoln’s own Oasis

 In Art and Music, Blog, Digital

Woah, where am I?

Am I traversing a mountain range in Washington state? Or training as a space pirate on the edge of a dystopian world? OR am I floating in space throwing Jupiter around like it’s a basketball? Kobe.

No this isn’t the matrix, it’s our very own, student built, Virtual Reality room — the first of its kind in a South Australian residential college.

So, what is Virtual Reality?

VR is experiencing a game or virtual environment through the perspective of a head mounted display. The user is immersed inside this reality because their senses believe the visual tricks that are fed to them. When you look around using the headset, the response is immediate, so that a user may look up or down and the visual display changes instantaneously to represent this movement.

All of your senses are taken over by this device.

Spatial audio increases this effect. A noise heard from a distance will sound as if it’s heard from a distance. The controllers respond with haptic feedback to fake the sensation of picking something up or interacting with an object. A can of spray paint rattles when shaken; a bow quivers with the tension of drawing back an arrow. You can pick up, throw, and interact with just about anything. You haven’t experienced VR without blowing up balloons inside of an Icelandic lave tube and then popping them all gleefully.

But popping balloons isn’t what it’s all about — and neither is it playing with robotic dogs, or shooting robotic space pirates. Okay, maybe it’s a little about all that, but how else is this technology used at Lincoln?

Well, new applications can be added all the time, and there are heaps to choose from. Google Earth is an educational tool which allows users to easily explore almost every inch of the Earth’s surface. Satellite mapping, and 360° viewing, can take you to the streets of London, Paris and most other major cities.

3D painting also offers art students an edge on the digital world. 3D art works can be explored and edited, and there are many different tools and styles to be experimented with. Structures are easily mapped out in a matter of minutes, providing a quick tool for planning and visualisation.

Medical students can also use the technology to their advantage. There are applications that allow users to dissect parts of the human body, and tools which can cut away a 3D image of the human body to reveal the internal workings.

And these are just some of the possibilities available.

All this, and it was built by one of Lincoln’s very own residents; Adrian Orenstein.

A nineteen-year-old student, Adrian is studying a Bachelor of Advanced Computer Science at The University of Adelaide and is the Engineering-Computer-Math and Sciences Tutor on Lincoln’s academic team. He is also currently employed as a Junior UI / UX Developer at Resolution Systems, working on their product Maxmine — an automated business improvement tool that uses cloud computing to measure performance on mining sites.

The opportunity to set up a VR room at Lincoln is one he wouldn’t have had anywhere else. The project has not only provided him a complete knowledge and understanding of VR, but has also given him an advantage over other students studying Computer Science.

Building computers since the age of 12 — with the help of his older brother — Adrian has gone on to build a total of 6, his latest now running Lincoln’s VR room. Having done previous research on game design and VR games beforehand, he was very eager to try his hand at something new.

“It took a total of 6 hours to build the computer, spanning over 2 days. Once the software was set up and ready I could begin establishing the equipment required –satellites, headset etcetera — a job which took around 4 hours. When this was done, only the calibration of devices and tracking systems were left to be completed — about another 2 hours of work,” explained Adrian.

And I can’t even stay focused in a 2-hour lecture…

The room was installed over the summer holidays, ready for use in 2018. The idea for a VR room came about when an alumnus wished to contribute to innovation at Lincoln. CEO, Dr Paul Tosch, began communicating with students about what could be done at Lincoln to improve it for the students. Adrian, who had always wanted to experience VR, approached Paul when he heard him talking about the amazing new technology. Soon they both agreed that a VR room would provide many benefits to the student community — all thanks to the generous donation from an alumnus.

“Lincoln is continuously looking for ways to enhance our facilities and provide more opportunities that benefit our residents. To this end, we value the input of our residents and always encourage them to step forward and contribute to their ideas on what they’d like to see in their community,” said Lincoln CEO, Dr Paul Tosch.

Although VR can be used as either a learning device or a tool for relaxation, the technology is more about the experience it provides — one that many coming to Lincoln wouldn’t have previously had. It is, put simply, remarkable technology.

The memories it will leave you with are fantastic and unforgettable.

Lincoln is all about experiences and discovering new things and Lincoln’s VR room very much embodies this idea. This kind of progressive change and forward-thinking is what helps keep Lincoln fresh and exciting to truly deliver university accommodation that gives you an edge.

Written by Kienan McKay, Lincoln Resident 2018

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