Students and academics at the University of Glasgow are set to benefit from a brand-new extended reality (XR) facility on campus.
XR is a merger of virtual (VR) and augmented realities (AR) that supports new, immersive learning experiences, allowing students to interact with computer-generated 3D images and simulations.
The new facility, named the EON-XR Centre, has been developed in partnership with XR specialists, EON Reality.
The Centre will be based at the university’s James Watt South Building, giving students access to AR software on their mobile phones and VR headsets to reinvigorate the learning process. Engineering students, for example, will be able to visualise and interact with the inner workings of machinery in a virtual space, while medical students can gain new insight into how organs function.
On top of this, University of Glasgow lecturers will benefit from access to Eon Reality’s ‘knowledge metaverse’ – a digital portfolio of thousands of learning tools created alongside other partners, while learners get the chance to build, use and share their own designs.
“XR technology will become a significant feature of the future global learning landscape and this partnership will allow us to help shape that future” – Professor Frank Coton, University if Glasgow
The partnership was officially revealed on Friday (1 October) via an event at the university’s student union reading room.
Professor Frank Coton, vice-principal of the university, commented: “We are delighted to be partnering with EON Reality on the establishment of this new Centre. Despite being an ancient university, Glasgow has always embraced the opportunities that new technologies offer to enhance student learning. XR technology will become a significant feature of the future global learning landscape and this partnership will allow us to help shape that future.”
Students at the university’s partner sites at the Singapore Institute of Technology and the University of Electronic Science and Technology in China (UESTC) will also gain access to the XR system.
“The benefit of exploiting XR technology goes beyond the pandemic needs of enabling learners to learn from their homes,” said Professor Muhammad Imran, dean of the University of Glasgow UESTC. “It will enhance the learning experience even in face-to-face classroom teaching by helping learners to have better visualisation and the ability to repeat the experience of learning/training of specific skills in [a] functionally safe environment.”
As the partnership progresses, Professor Imran and his team will also make use of the university’s Urban Testbed, funded by The Scotland 5G Centre, to explore how 5G’s provision of high-end digital connectivity can help create a seamless XR experience.