AR and VR applications, holograms, magic cubes – attraction for hundreds of children at the Night of European Researchers 2022
Hundreds of children and young people experienced the world through the lens of virtual and augmented reality at the stand CeL and CM from European Researchers' Night. The event is part of the Marie Curie action series and aims to show the general public what it means to be a researcher and how interesting research work can be, under the motto "Let's inspire the next generation of Romanian researchers!"
Young people and children, fascinated by VR technology
Hundreds of children and young people enthusiastically visited the stand Polytechnic University of Timișoara, as well as that of the project Spotlight Heritage Timișoara, from Night of European Researchers 2022 Timișoara, where, assisted by the teams present, they played with the latest innovations in augmented and virtual reality applications and games.
Visitors were able to explore in a unique way, numerous fields with the help of VR glasses, including spaceships, the human body and even the churches and the city of Timișoara. They were also able to create their own 3D imaginary world with the help of AR applications.
Additionally, for those interested in a career in AR/VR, booth guides explained the "science" behind these mobile apps and the steps to develop them, starting right from your home computer or laptop.
Holograms, virtual tours, AR glasses and an educational magic cube for 'curious minds'
The participants also discovered the UPT Technical Museum project that presents the history of science and technology in the Politehnica University of Timișoara and the region. The UPT teams demonstrated the applications and interactive virtual tours of the UPT Museum using the virtual reality glasses Oculus Rift and Oculus Quest 2, and presented the educational applications for children made with the glasses and the Merge Cube. Attendees were also able to experience mixed reality technology that allows them to interact with holograms around them through Microsoft HoloLens 2 glasses.
"Walks" through Timișoara from now and then through AR and student co-creators of the city's digital culture
One of the biggest points of interest of the participants was the cultural project Spotlight Heritage Timișoara / Spotlight Heritage Timișoara. The participants had the opportunity to discover the web page of the project, with the stories of the four historical districts of Timișoara, through an interactive display and, at the same time, they "walked" virtually through Timișoara now and then with the Spotlight mobile and augmented reality applications Heritage Timișoara, made available on interactive tablets and mobile phones at the stand UPT, developed by polytechnic students within the project.
For an extra interaction with the visitors who were waiting in line with interest, the Spotlitght Heritage team invited them to a game, where they had to recognize visual elements from the past of Timisoara. Several dozen people expressed their interest in checking their knowledge about the city's cultural heritage, receiving prizes at the end that will remind them of the Spotlight Heritage Timișoara project.
At the same time, they were able to enjoy the experience of dance and theater performances, recorded in a multimedia experience, with elements of augmented reality, which explores, neighborhood by neighborhood, the memory and stories of the inhabitants of Timisoara yesterday and today, wanting to highlight the city's cultural heritage.
Projects with impact for the European community
Among the projects that aroused interest among the participants of the Night of Researchers, there is also the project Erasmus+ Community Enabled Open Training on Creative & Cultural Entrepreneurship – TraCCE, which adopts a transnational approach and from the perspective of multiple stakeholders, in order to create a higher education curriculum, as well as the development of a "train off trainers" toolkit of civic involvement, which will provide both project staff and the whole community civically involved, open access to a virtual learning environment, as well as two international workshops.
Another attraction of the evening was the project AugmentedWearEdu in which UPT is a partner and through which augmented reality applications are developed, virtual reality and with haptic (sensory) feedback, which allow students to participate in university laboratories, either remotely or in e-learning system - applications of whose utility may be all the more valuable in conditions of social distancing during the pandemic.
Research in AR / VR, integrated in education
The ID / IFR and e-Learning Center together with the Multimedia Center, through their teachers and researchers, have been involved for several years in AR / VR research, online courses, virtual mobility, digital applications dedicated to culture and heritage. Participation in European projects, partnerships with other universities and ICT companies in Timisoara have led to a good mastery of the field, materialized in a series of scientific articles published in international conferences and journals.