A new emergent technology lab at the University of Hull will offer students state-of-the-art equipment in virtual and augmented reality.
The new suite, located on the university’s campus, features a variety of hi-tech equipment in virtual and augmented reality and has been supported through a £200,000 capital grant from the Department for Education.
Forming part of the wider Yorkshire & Humber Institute of Technology (YHIoT), the new lab will offer training in virtual reality and augmented reality technology and will allow students to develop their own VR and AR applications.
Students will also be able to develop autonomous vehicles and learn about the electronics, mechanical engineering, embedded software development and artificial intelligence (AI) that underpins this technology.
Professor Andrew Heyes, dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University of Hull, said: “Technology such as virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence represent the future of manufacturing in the UK, but there is currently a huge shortage of people with the skills to meet industry demand.
“With this investment, students will have access to some of the best facilities and expertise around, so they will be better placed to take advantage of those employment opportunities.
“We want to support local companies by providing them with the skilled workforce they need to be more competitive.
“We also hope that this type of investment will help to widen participation in further and higher education by giving more people from diverse backgrounds access to the opportunities that exist in the manufacturing and technology sectors.”
The equipment in the new lab includes VR headsets with motion and eye-tracking technology and dedicated high-performance PCs to drive them, as well as standalone VR headsets and Microsoft Hololens AR headsets.
Virtual reality is when a person’s view of the outside world is completely replaced by a computer-generated one, giving the sensation of being inside a different environment.
Augmented reality, in contrast, is when computer-generated items are made visible through a headset and overlaid on top of the existing real world.
Amy Gadd, head of the Yorkshire & Humber Institute of Technology, said: “It was wonderful to see the new Institute of Technology facilities at the University of Hull.
“The university is a key partner in supporting the development of higher-level technical skills across the Yorkshire & Humber IoT partnership.
“The new equipment will help to develop the knowledge and skills needed for emerging technologies supporting various employer sectors to boost the region’s economy.”
The new £200,000 lab – funded by the Department for Education – will be used by students from each of the YHIoT’s seven partner colleges.
Dr Peter Robinson, interim head of the university’s department of computer science and technology, said: “We also have 20 sets of equipment for creating autonomous robotic vehicles.
“These offer huge potential for learning projects, in areas of electronics, mechanical engineering, embedded software development and AI.”
Professor Becky Huxley-Binns, pro-vice-chancellor for education, said: “The institute is a fantastic opportunity for education providers and employers to work together to enhance technical education at all levels.
“Digital technology and agri-tech have an important role to play in the future prosperity of the region and we’ve got colleges working really closely with universities, listening to the employers’ voice and responding to their needs.
“Ultimately, we all want to keep our talent in the region to generate highly-skilled jobs that will increase prosperity across Yorkshire and the Humber.”