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VGTU Opens VR Laboratory

VGTU Opens VR Laboratory
The creativity and innovation centre “LinkMenų fabrikas” at Vinius Gediminas Technical University (VGTU) in cooperation with global initiative VR First opened the Virtual Reality (VR) laboratory. Investors were choosing from 254 education institutions globally. Twenty-six education institutions were chosen and VGTU is among them. Other locations for VR Laboratories are such universities as Rochester (USA), Hamburg (Germany), Warsaw University of Technology (Poland) and other.
“Universities are the early adopters of new technologies, where they are used to educate professionals of the future. The role of university is to provide a wider access for society to cutting edge technology. VGTU is such university, and that is why last year we have chosen it as a new location for VR First virtual reality laboratory,” says Rahel Demant, the Head of Operations at VR First.
VR First is a global programme designed to provide state-of-the-art facilities to creators and educators interested in exploring the power and potential of virtual reality development. VR First Labs and Centres are designed to be the key locations for nurturing new talent in VR/AR development. There were 254 universities from all around the world competing to become locations for 26 new laboratories.
“VR First laboratory at VGTU’s “LinkMenų fabrikas” is open to students who want to try out cutting edge VR/AR technologies and want to experience a completely different way of studying by being fully submerged in virtual reality: create games in virtual space, review videos and films etc.,” says Adas Meškėnas, Director of VGTU’s “LinkMenų fabrikas”.
He confirms that nowadays application of virtual reality is an integrated part of construction, modelling and planning industry. “Real objects are digitalised by means of laser scanning and photogrammetry. The result of such process is a mass of dots, which, later, by means of special software, is converted to surfaces with colours and texture, and finally a very accurate virtual model is created. Such models are used to create virtual reality, – says the Head of VGTU’s “LinkMenų fabrikas” – and when VR equipment is connected to an indoor positioning system, then VR reaches another level. Nowadays, a person in virtual reality is not confined to a certain small area, usually 3-4 m2, now they can move within unlimited indoor space, where its coordinates are aligned with the VR environment. This is how the especially advanced augmented reality (AR) is created”.
VR technologies will strengthen interdisciplinary studies at VGTU and will enable students to work on joint multimedia, computer design, creative industries, electronics, mechanics, transport or even aviation projects. Students’ laboratory-creative tasks will be carried out in this lab. Also the new VR system will be used for research in such projects as “Predictive Novelty Discovery for Real-Time Stereoscopic Image Analysis and Decision Support” (No. MIP-083/2015, financed by the Research Council of Lithuania), where possibilities of effective use of VR technologies in analysing and comparison of bioengineering and biomedical images are researched.
The opening of VR First laboratory is not the first VR technology-related experience at VGTU’s “LinkMenų fabrikas”. Recently, Prof. Žilvinas Lilas, Professor at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne (Germany) and founding member of Paidia Institute in Cologne has visited VGTU. He also worked at the Walt Disney Studios and created special 3D animation effects for films in Hollywood. The professor gave an intensive joint course on 3D scanning at VGTU’s creativity and innovation centre “LinkMenų fabrikas”. Prof. Žilvinas Lilas is planning to come back to Vilnius in September to continue the project of transferring the scanned objects of Vilnius city to virtual reality.  
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