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Fieldwork education innovation

geoVR

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VR demonstration at the Onderwijsdagen. A visitor is exploring one of our fieldwork sites (Aliaga in Spain).

Virtual Reality (VR) technology is becoming more popular and available for the wider public. With a VR-headset, you can walk through digital worlds with the full freedom of going and looking where you want. Such immersive experience makes if feel much more real than other 3D visualization techniques.

In geosciences, studying the landscape or a city requires vising the field every now and then. Using VR, students can visit locations without physically going there. Furthermore, in a digital VR environment you can view data not visible in reality, like infrared-data or historic data, and you can literally take-off to get a birds-eye view. Information can be added to the environment to guide the students through the most important parts of the landscape.

In this project, we explored the possibilities of using VR as visualization technique for photogrammetry GIS data. Such data is usually captured by small drones, and is a combination of a height model and photographic data. Our aim is to create a simple workflow, which can easily be used by non-specialist to make the VR techniques accessible to a large group of geoscientists. Such environments using real photo-textures are different from regular game-environments that are (partly) synthetic and designed to look nice. Much attention is given to navigate (walk and fly) through the scene without getting sea-sick and we explored opportunities to add additional teaching materials to use the virtual environment as a VR-lecture.

geoVR landscapes can be used for fieldwork preparation, virtual outcrop interpretation, revisiting field-sited, visualizing landscape laboratory experiments, understand the impact of urban planning, etc., etc.