InstaVR Interviews: Meet the VR Practitioners
InstaVR Interviews is a blog series where we turn the spotlight on our customers and industry experts. We find out why they create VR, how they use InstaVR, and what the future of VR will look like. To read more interviews, visit the InstaVR Interviews homepage.
Dr. Dean Whitcombe – University of South Wales
Dr. Dean Whitcombe currently works as an immersive learning developer in our state-of-the-art Hydra simulation suite at the University of South Wales. He manages the day-to-day running of the Hydra simulation suite and proactively encourage staff across the university to use the area. The majority of his time is spent developing simulated scenarios and immersive learning material for various subject areas and courses throughout the University. To date, those subject areas include: Police Sciences, Public Services, Cyber–security, Health and Social Care Management, Social Work, Global Governance, Initial Teacher Training, Nursing and Public Health.
Interest in video games inspires focus on VR & immersive learning
Question: What interests you about Virtual Reality?
Answer: I have always enjoyed playing video games, particularly open world games where you can explore and create your own story. I have a particular interest in why people become so immersed in video games. With more and more video game developers integrating virtual reality (VR) into their games, it provides what I consider, “next level” immersion. In work, most of my time is spent creating and coordinating immersive, simulated exercises and I am keen to explore how VR can augment the simulated learning experience.
VR demo used as part of student induction programme; Staff workshops build awareness
Question: How do you get your institution and students interested in the medium?
Answer: I am currently demonstrating the potential benefits of VR and InstaVR to staff across the University and we have already started integrating this technology into our simulated exercises. For example, this year we included a VR demonstration as part of our student induction programme and this allowed students to become familiar with the VR technology.
We are currently designing and running workshops for staff on how VR and particularly InstaVR could be used as part of their simulated activities. What’s great about these workshops is that two of our undergraduate students (Richard Whinstance and Eloise Edwards) are helping to organise these sessions. We also plan to share our experiences on social media to hopefully generate more interest across the University.
Current VR projects focus on counter terrorism, crime scene investigation, and preventing child exploitation
Question: What types of VR projects are you working on?
Answer: My long-term goal is to incorporate VR, InstaVR and 360 video into a variety of simulated scenarios across different disciplines. I am currently working on a child exploitation and counter terrorism simulation with Mike Edwards (Senior Lecturer in Police Sciences) and we hope to use VR technology to show our students key locations such as a home interior and busy city centre.
We recently integrated VR technology into a problem-solving exercise for our students, who were transported to a College campus where the nature of the problems were explained in detail by campus security. Also, rather than showing our students video footage of a crime scene, the combination of a VR headset and InstaVR software will allow us to transport our students to these scenes, where they can examine and interact with the environment more freely.
Additional hardware & software: GoPro Fusion, Adobe Premiere Pro, VIVE Pro headsets
Question: How do you approach 360/3D image and video creation? What types of hardware (ie 360 cameras) and software (ie CGI software) are you using?
Answer: We currently use a GoPro Fusion 5.2k camera and tripod to capture 360 video. The GoPro Fusion software provides a quick and easy way of stitching and rendering high-resolution 360 video. We use Adobe Premiere Pro for editing and publishing 360 video. In our simulation suite pod rooms, we have high specification laptops to run our VIVE Pro headsets, InstaVr and 360 content.
Tried InstaVR on recommendation of South Wales Police
Question: How did you end up selecting InstaVR for creation and distribution?
Answer: InstaVR was recommended by Nick Joyner (Head of Immersive Learning and Development) at South Wales Police. We viewed InstaVR for the first time through a mobile headset and were impressed with the user-friendly nature of the software. For example, simply uploading a 360 video to InstaVR and viewing it on a VR headset really takes no time at all. We also researched a few other platforms but having access to a free trial really allowed us to make an informed decision.
Hotspots to be used as extensively as part of learning experience
Question: What are the main features of InstaVR you’re using?
Answer: I think the most used feature will undoubtedly be Hotspots. When we first started thinking about integrating VR headsets into our simulation suite, we envisaged using simple 360 video uploaded to a private Youtube channel. Using our crime scene scenario as an example, the Hotspot feature will allow students to move from room to room and receive audio and visual information if/ when they locate items or areas of interest. We look forward to determining whether this level of interactivity augments the learning experience.
Thank you to Dr. Dean Whitcombe for his time and insights!
***all images provided courtesy/copyright of Dean Whitcombe***