Posted on February 24, 2017 by staff

Truly authentic VR needs a multisensory approach


The importance of teasing all the senses to achieve an authentic virtual reality experience was highlighted at a major conference on AR and VR.

Manchester Metropolitan University welcomed a selection of academics and industry experts to the second major staging of the Virtual and Augmented Reality Conference.

BusinessCloud was there to hear Coventry University researcher Sarah Jones, a former journalist, expressing her desire to explore the possibilities in the field.

“I’m not interested in how VR works – I’m just interested in figuring out how to tell a story using it,” she told a lecture theatre of students, businesspeople and academics.

“We have to find a different way of telling that story. It shouldn’t be treated the same way as traditional broadcasting or journalism.”

Jones presented jointly with Steve Dawkins, associate head of the school of media and performing arts at Coventry University.

Their Perspectives VR project has produced a “multisensory film” set in Chungking, Hong Kong.

Jones said that upon returning to the UK and viewing the footage in VR, it didn’t feel authentic – so they took the distinctly un-tech approach of setting up a tent at the RTS Virtual Reality and 360 degree Storytelling event.

“We didn’t worry about health and safety – we put a heater in the tent and lots of curry spices and things like smelly blankets,” she said.

“People viewed the VR film in there and they said it led to a more realistic experience – mostly they said this was down to the heat.”

Perspectives VR are now looking to develop ways of initiating different smells for different scenes.

Jones added that no one complained of motion sickness, a common complaint of VR users: “Perhaps there is a better connection with the mind when you use more senses which stops this.”

The ARVR conference, held at the Creative Augmented Virtual Reality Hub at the MMU’s business school, was attended by 180 delegates and featured a speaker programme with leading experts from industry, an interactive exhibition space for AR and VR and ‘drop in’ sessions for delegates to hear about academic papers on the themes of tourism, retail, marketing, health and museum experiences.

Hub director Dr Timothy Jung said: “There is huge potential in the AR/VR sector and it is predicted that global revenues will reach $162 billion in 2020, and 2017 will be a big year for AR and VR in business.

“This conference provided a great opportunity for academia and business communities in the North West to come together, share experiences and learn about the latest trends in AR and VR.

“I believe this event provided a great platform for networking and future collaborations between businesses, academia and developers.”

Speakers included Dean Johnson, Head of Innovation, Brandwidth; Peter Daukintis and Mike Taulty from Microsoft Hololens; Professor Bob Stone, chair in interactive multimedia system, University of Birmingham; and Professor Richard Koeck, chair in architecture and visual arts, University of Liverpool.

Firms demonstrating their technology included Samsung, Studio Liddell, SwapBots, Rendermedia, Corporation Pop and Kinicho.