AVRL Meeting Feb 2017

The Virtual Plant Cell: immersion in cell science through virtual reality

Thu 16th Feb 2017 6:00pm – 8:00pm
UWA Monadelphous Integrated Learning Centre (upstairs)

Karina Price is the Science Communications Officer for the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology. Since 2015 she has led an international team developing The Virtual Plant Cell (VPC), a virtual reality experience that allows users to interact with a plant cell at a microscopic level and learn about the complex processes that scientists study.

Launched during National Science Week in August of last year, a pilot version of VPC, deployed on mobile devices, has been viewed by over 1,500 members of the public in Perth, Adelaide, Canberra and at Edinburgh Fringe in the UK. VPC has been overwhelmingly well received and its potential as a teaching tool validated through audience feedback. The Centre is continuing the development of VPC as a powerful science education and public outreach resource.

At this event, Karina outlined the development of The Virtual Plant Cell (VPC) project, including the extensive support provided by AVRL. She detailed:

  • How the project first came about (and its historic linkage with AVRL’s early days).
  • How scrapbooking, storyboarding and prototypes were used to design and explore ideas that matched the Centre’s education and outreach goals.
  • The scale, graphical style and control mechanics that were considered, weighing up realism, scientific accuracy, usability and fun.
  • The logistical and technological challenges of running live VR events.

Following Karina’s talk, attendees got to hear from another surprise guest speaker, Jarrod Bassan, who is the Mobility & IoT Lead at CSC. Jarrod demonstrated the DAQRI Smart Helmet – a leading industry augmented reality technology that is designed as a data visualisation interface for remote site operations. The DAQRI Smart Helmet is intended to improve worker safety and productivity, adapt to skills shortages, high worker turnover rates, and provide more effective maintenance to new and ever more complicated plant and equipment.

Here you can see AVRL Chair, Jonathan Knispel, demonstrating the helmet:

After both speakers had finished, attendees networked and were able to try VPC demos on Google Cardboard, Daydream and Oculus Rift devices, as well as try the DAQRI Smart Helmet.