Over the past months, the OS Labs team has been busy developing a GIS based educational game experience using the Oculus Rift virtual reality system. The project is one element in a wider project that is exploring how both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) can be used to present geospatial data in new and stimulating ways. Read on for a little background on the project…
Virtual reality, as a concept, has existed for many years. The first functional VR headset was built in the sixties, yet long before that, science fiction authors had already been daring to imagine such worlds. The early 90s saw consumer-orientated VR products being developed, marketed and, in some cases, actually released for sale. However, that technology couldn’t meet people’s expectations, leaving many disillusioned. More recent advancements in technology have put it back on the agenda. There is already a broad range of VR kit available for purchase, with more lined up for release in 2018. So, how might this relate to Ordnance Survey? With a sense of ‘place’ being a key component in VR, it seems that there is some common ground to explore.
At last, serving huge quantities of 3D geospatial data into interactive user applications is getting easier and more accessible. Support for ‘3D streaming’ is gaining a foothold within popular geospatial applications, paving the way for data providers to present their own 3D data assets in ways that users will find natural and accessible. For us at OS, this is a development that we’re very excited about, as we believe it will be a powerful tool in helping to unlock the potential of geospatial 3D data.
For many people, Google Earth (launched in 2005) was their first experience of navigating a ‘digital globe’ – a tool that is typically supported by ‘streaming’ technology. Overwhelming volumes of geospatial information were clearly available, yet how had it got there? Although Google Earth was then only available as a downloadable app, it was clear that the data was being sourced quite independently. For many of us, this served as our introduction to ‘3D streaming’ – the ability to selectively deliver content, based upon real-time navigation, within a 3D scene.