Case study

Creating a Tech Hub for local business and Edge Hill University


The ActiveCube at Edge Hill University is the first super immersive 3D virtual environment in the UK

Based in Lancashire, UK, and founded in 1885, Edge Hill University is a campus university that offers a range of undergraduate, postgraduate and research courses. The University puts student experience at the heart of every decision, which is reflected in its accolades of Modern University of the Year 2022 and University of the Year 2020/21.  

Edge Hill University combines quality teaching with future-focused courses that are designed to empower, giving students the skills they need to succeed in their academic lives as well as their careers. That’s clear to see in the fact that 93.5% of its students are employed or in further study within 15 months of graduating, as per Graduate Outcomes 2019/20.  

As well as innovative teaching, the University offers outstanding facilities for its staff, students, and local businesses to take advantage of. In 2016, the University opened its Technology Hub, a sign of its commitment to technological innovation, computing and bioscience.

How Edge Hill University has used its 4K 3D CAVE…

  • Interacting with a virtual model of its Library, Careers and Student Services building
  • Working with the Medical School to investigate mixed reality for surgery simulations
  • Building links with local schools by inviting pupils to experience the technology
A design review in the ActiveCube

A UK-first for the Technology Hub

The £13m Technology Hub was built thanks to £3 million of support from the Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership to provide an innovative resource for students and local businesses alike.  

The University’s facilities offer a staggering range of technology as well as its ActiveCube, including HTC Vive and Microsoft HoloLens headsets, 3D printers and scanners, ZSpace augmented and virtual reality system, Tobi Pro 2 eye-tracker, and much more.  

It also offers ways for visitors to collaborate, whether that’s through the ‘Tech Sandpit’ which brings students and businesses together to discuss ideas that can be developed using expertise in computer science and biotechnology. Budding entrepreneurs can benefit from skills and knowledge of the University and local industry in ‘The Hatchery’, a working space for new business ideas.

The Technology Hub also boasts the UK’s first super immersive CAVE – a Virtalis ActiveCube system, which runs a diverse range of software packages including the industry-leading Visionary Render. The Virtalis software enables users to view and work with incredibly huge, incredibly detailed models in a range of file formats. The immersive display is created with 4K 3D rear-projection projectors, and the system as a whole is powered by Virtalis cluster technology. The main user is tracked so that the content moves according to their own perspective, for an even more immersive experience.

While the ActiveCube itself has capacity for up to three people at once, it is hooked up to a lecture theatre so that the visualisation content can be appreciated on a larger scale.

Tracked 3D glasses used with the ActiveCube
“The ActiveCube is used on a daily basis, by students and lecturers, and even budding entrepreneurs, that tap into the skills and knowledge of the University and local industry in ‘The Hatchery’, a working space for new business ideas.
“You can create your own scenarios; you can use Visionary Render where you create an environment in 3D. You can create a world, or a room, or anything in between. It allows you to visualise data in ways that you can’t on a PC – you can visualise it almost tangibly, as if it’s there. The students almost believe they’re in the environment that the computer is showing them. It brings the world into one room – you're only limited by your imagination.”
Roger Perrin, Computer Science Department Technician, Edge Hill University

Watch the Edge Hill University’s ActiveCube in action:

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