2/2016

Take a time machine to a lecture?

In future, it may be possible to attend lectures at Tampere University of Technology from one’s own couch using a virtual reality headset. Researchers at TUT’s Department of Signal Processing are using the Nokia OZO camera to find out how virtual reality could be harnessed for educational purposes.

OZO camera, Ugur Kart and students

 

Doctoral student Ugur Kart (in OZO shirt) records lectures with the Nokia OZO camera.

 

Virtual reality may well be mundane sooner than we think. The researchers of TUT’s Department of Signal Processing are working in close cooperation with Nokia to find out how virtual reality could be utilised for educational purposes. In the research project, the Nokia OZO camera is used for recording lectures to analyse the potential of the method in education development.

“For now, the lecture footage will remain in research use, but technically speaking, the use of virtual reality in teaching is already possible,” Ugur Kart, a doctoral student at the Department of Signal Processing explains.

The Nokia OZO used in the research is the world’s first professional 360-degree VR camera. It enables image and sound monitoring during recording as well as live streaming with 3D 360 video. The camera has been developed in Tampere and they are also manufactured in Finland.

“It is a great opportunity for us to use the OZO camera in our research. We also use the Nokia software and the company’s experts and engineers have been very helpful to us,” Kart says.

Return to childhood memories

OZO is circular in shape and it features multiple lenses around the camera. The recordings form a full image of the space, including sounds. The footage is viewed with a separate VR headset that allows 360-degree panning of the space. Sounds can be heard as if they come from their original natural directions. The prices on VR cameras are still high, but VR headsets for viewing are available at student-friendly prices.

“Experiencing this type of virtual reality for the first time was truly mind-blowing. It is unlike watching a regular video, as it genuinely feels like you are right there,” Kart reminisces.

According to Ugur Kart, virtual reality is like a time machine that enables travelling to new places or returning to one’s childhood memories, for example, through previously recorded footage.

“This technology is becoming increasingly common. Both NASA and the defence forces of different countries, for example, have utilised virtual reality for a long time now.”

Once ordinary people start recording their holiday trips with VR cameras, the volume of data around the world will again reach a new high. Kart is not worried about this aspect. The amount of data is on a steep increase anyway now that images and video materials are used to an increasing extent.

“We will find solutions to data storage, no doubt. One of the great things about this human race of ours is that we always find solutions to the problems we encounter.”

Text: Sanna Schildt
Photo: Virpi Andersin

 
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