Sheffield University’s Diamond Features a Virtalis VR Suite
The University of Sheffield’s state-of-the-art £81 million Diamond building which features 19 specialist engineering labs for teaching, has recently taken delivery of Virtalis Virtual Reality (VR) systems and software.
In addition, Virtalis has become a technological partner of the University in the rapidly changing world of VR.
“We’ve had queues out of the door at open days”, said Rob Stacey, a teaching technician in the Diamond who was the project manager responsible for commissioning the VR suite. “Numerous research groups are now looking at involving VR in their research and it’s not just confined to engineering and CAD data either – we’ve had biochemists and medical researchers using the facilities, albeit those that are formally based within Engineering.”
The main VR laboratory houses one of Virtalis’ ActiveWall and Floor stereoscopic 3D display systems. It uses Christie Boxer 4K projection with ART optical tracking and Virtalis’ Visionary Render software. Visionary Render software allows users to access and experience a real-time, collaborative and immersive Virtual Reality (VR) environment created from huge multi-source 3D datasets. Aside from universities, it is used by major blue chips like Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems and Raytheon.
The VR laboratory is divided into two, with the room containing the ActiveWall and Floor able to accommodate 20 students. The adjoining room, known as the Development Space, contains 10 high spec PCs with Oculus Rift HMDs and Virtalis’ Visionary Render software – these are known as ActiveDesks.
“We amaze our many visitors by showing them our virtual 3D model of the Diamond after they have been on the tour of the building itself” said Rob Stacey. “We mainly use SolidWorks CAD and 3DS Max and we find conversion into Visionary Render very smooth.”
The Diamond is the University of Sheffield’s largest ever investment in learning and teaching. Home to over 5,000 students from the Faculty of Engineering, in addition to specialist engineering labs, the Diamond boasts teaching facilities, library and IT services and student study spaces. The engineering laboratories include a clean room, bioengineering lab, aerospace simulation lab, robotics arena, machine shop and chemical engineering pilot plant, as well as the virtual reality suite.