Holovis upgrades world-leading VSimulator motion platform at University of Exeter

Holovis, who design and install world-class immersive experiences, have added further capability and functionality to the University of Exeter’s VSimulator at Exeter Science Park.

Holovis worked on the initial project – installing a sophisticated motion platform and creating bespoke middleware and content for the cutting-edge VSimulator, which studies how humans interact with the built environment, in a safe Virtual Reality environment. The facility can be tailored to meet the testing requirements of multi-disciplinary research and commercial communities, with key sectors including construction, engineering, medical and sport science.

University of Exeter, VSimulator Video by Rowe Films

The immediate popularity of the VSimulator’s capabilities led to the University requesting additional functionality, which Holovis has provided. 

This includes: 

– A set of code libraries and content which allow researchers and commercial clients to create their own software solutions to control the system, tailored to their specific needs.

– New functionality to allow researchers who are not fully-versed in operating the platform the opportunity to quickly understand its basic controls, increasing speed to competence and shortening research phases. 

– Immediate playback of 360-degree video in headsets, in conjunction with movement on the motion platform.

Dr Drew Dunk, Head of Software Development at Holovis, said: “The University of Exeter has been a brilliant partner to work with. We gave them a list of additional functionality which they immediately saw the potential of. 

“We are working together to explore even more functionality. We have only just begun to understand the potential and capability of the VSimulator for learning, research and industrial applications.

“It’s been a great project to work on, and we see our partnership with the university only getter stronger as we bring new technology upgrades to the system in the future.”

Professor James Brownjohn, a Structural Dynamics expert at the University of Exeter, and the Principal Investigator for VSimulators@Exeter said: “VSimulators@Exeter is world-beating. I don’t think there’s anything like it on the planet.

“It’s probably got the most sophisticated virtual reality environment for a group of people working together in a simulated environment on a platform that I know of.”

He added: “Holovis has smoothly managed the process of creating the facility, integrating a unique motion platform, a very large and rare array of force plates, motion capture and virtual reality for up to nine occupants e.g. in a stadium simulation. 

“We have enjoyed working with Holovis, with their highly professional approach and technical skills. The potential real-world impact can be far reaching – we really don’t know where it will take us. It will be an exciting ride and we look forward to more collaboration with Holovis in the future.”

VSimulators@Exeter, which opened in 2020, links structural movement and environmental conditions.

The motion platform, which was provided by E2M, is used for applications such as testing bridge or stadium design when people are moving on the structure.

More recently, it’s been used by medical researchers who are investigating how older people can move safely around certain environments.

On the platform, nine users can be simultaneously immersed in shared experiences using Virtual Reality headsets, with all the motion and movement data captured by the system for processing and analysis.

For further information, please email alex.kunawicz@holovis.com