Virtual reality and immersive technologies
The Learning Environments virtual reality lab allows staff and researchers to explore and experiment with interactive virtual reality applications for use in teaching and learning, research and engagement.
The Learning Environments Virtual Reality Lab was established in 2014 to facilitate the development and application of virtual reality technology in teaching and learning, research and engagement. Consultations and demonstrations are available for academic staff, professional staff and research higher degree students working on virtual reality related projects. The lab is also able to facilitate virtual production using green screen technology and mixed-reality capture.
- Music therapy in virtual environments: Developing a virtual reality platform for telehealth group singing interventions for people with quadriplegia (NSI seed funded)
- Virtual reality therapy and youth mental health: Using VR to improve young people’s mental health and wellbeing (MNSI seed funded)
- Applying immersive technologies to improve learning and the development of key skills in ecology (LTI funded).
- Reducing the urban-rural divide with virtual reality farming (NSI seed funded)
- Learning through Immersive Media November 2019
- NSI present VR research at Telstra Labs August 2018
- Networked Society Institute in iAwards National Finals August 2018
- The new hyper-reality of work October 2017
- Virtual reality in the biology classroom April 2017
- Accessibility of virtual reality environments May 2016
- Using AltspaceVR for collaboration in virtual reality August 2015
- Learning Environments virtual reality research and development lab December 2014
- Creating content for virtual reality experiences October 2014
VR activities at the University
- Immersive learning with virtual reality masterclasses (University of Melbourne only)
- Immersive technologies (VR/AR) (Yammer group, University of Melbourne only)
- Virtual Reality email list
Other areas exploring new technologies at the University
- Networked Society Institute
- Digital Learning Hub (School of Biosciences)
- MakerSpaces (Melbourne School of Design)
- Masters projects (Interaction Design Lab) (opportunities for students)
- Networked Society Institute (no longer active but has archive of VR projects )
Other ways to get involved in the VR community
VR meetups are a great way to meet other VR developers and enthusiasts and occur regularly throughout the year around Melbourne.
Tamplin, J., Loveridge, B., Clarke, K., Li, Y., & J Berlowitz, D. (2019). Development and feasibility testing of an online virtual reality platform for delivering therapeutic group singing interventions for people living with spinal cord injury. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, 1357633X19828463.
Getting started with VR
This comprehensive guide to getting started with virtual reality is a great resource for headsets and information. So is this one. For high-volume University events uses such as teaching and learning or Open Day activities we generally recommend the Oculus Quest but there are other good choices depending on your needs and new hardware is always being released. For tethered PC VR options check out this article on purchasing a VR ready system or contact us for assistance.
For high uses cases such as public demonstrations or classes we recommend purchasing VR covers. You will also need to buy a few sets of wipes to use between uses. Non-alcoholic antibacterial wipes are also recommended to wipe down the covers between users, alcoholic wipes may be uncomfortable for some people’s faces. Disposable face-masks from VRCover may also be an appropriate option.
Standalone VR HMD's such as the Oculus Quest can be great for an easy to use and support experience. If you require PC-based VR then follow the recommended VR specifications and choose from a number of pre-built ‘VR-ready’ systems. Contact us for the latest hardware recommendations.
When developing for virtual reality, although different users have varying levels of tolerance it’s important to prevent users from experiencing simulator sickness. This occurs when a user in the real world experiences acceleration beyond a personal comfortable level in the virtual world. This article Keeping Simulator Sickness Down provides an excellent overview of this issues to keep in mind when designing VR experiences.
When using 360 video in the classroom, special care must be taken to ensure students are not subject to hardware or experiences that induce nausea (ie rollercoaster rides on a Google cardboard system). Not everyone experiences simulator sickness the same but designing for the most sensitive people ensures the most accessible experience for everyone.
Demonstrations of virtual reality experiences need to be accessible for all users since a poorly designed or setup experience will often put people of using VR again. We are happy to assist with consultation on VR demonstration best practices.