Kingston University, a public research university located in London, has spent £53,000 (~$65,000) to create the Centre for Augmented and Virtual Reality Environments – CAVE for short. The new facility is a state-of-the-art working space designed to help give their students an edge in entering the video game industry.
The CAVE boasts an arsenal suited to helping Kingston students understand the AR/VR space, including VR headsets and equipment that tracks eye movements and brain activity to monitor how much someone is enjoying playing a game. The facility complements the University’s newly-redesigned games lab and provides undergraduate, postgraduate and research students a space to collaborate on their projects.
“We are breaking the mold with this high-spec, collaborative learning environment,” said Doctor Vesna Brujic-Okretic, head of the School of Computer Science and Mathematics. “Having games programming students working with design students on various aspects of a project is exactly how the digital media industry works – it’s that level of inter-disciplinary work and the exchange of views that will broaden the horizons of each and every one of them and help make sure they are industry-ready.”
Dr. Brujic-Okretic said the university was rapidly developing its augmented reality and virtual reality facilities to keep pace with advances in the digital media industry. Kingston University became one of twelve in the United Kingdom to secure an educational partnership with Sony last year, giving students access to the company’s latest gaming platforms to develop on, as well as access to a range of projects that could help the students improve their chances of landing a job in the industry.
Kingston University has plans for the CAVE beyond gaming, an example of which is a two-year doctorate project at the University being led by associate professor Vasileios Argyriou. The project is using virtual reality devices to test the cognitive ability of patients with early on-set Alzheimer’s. In addition, there are also plans for students from across the university, such as those in art, design and animation courses, to collaborate with the computer science students in order to incorporate virtual reality into their work.
“We are very excited about the opportunities that the CAVE will offer for our staff and students,” said Dr. Lucy Jones, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing. “The launch showed how interested everybody was in the technology and how it could be used to significantly enhance research and teaching.”