Agenda: Paving the way to a new era in extended reality


The opening of the new Mazumdar-Shaw Advanced Research Center (ARC) at the University of Glasgow heralds a new era for research in the city.

By housing diverse teams of researchers in the same building, ARC will expose individuals and research areas to each other daily in an open and flexible environment, changing both practice and perception.

Perception is at the heart of our way of thinking. A key development for ARC is the leading national facility in visualization technologies, ARC XR, which it is establishing in Glasgow.

Extended Reality (XR) is an umbrella term for immersive technology, including Virtual Reality (VR). With ARC XR, the university now has facilities to complement its leadership position in immersive technology research, a place that can call on local and global partners to reinvent the way we see reality and so how we interpret it.

Our researchers will work with other universities, the public sector, government and industry to transform the way we perform various tasks in our daily lives using cutting-edge research.

Glasgow’s digital businesses, such as the Soluis Group, have been involved in our work from the start. With investment in XR rapidly increasing across the UK and one of our industry partners being identified as one of the best companies in the field by Immerse UK, the possibilities – from medical modeling to digital exposure life, from virtual tourism to transformational experiences in a medical and recreational sense – are profound.

Visualization technology is expected to capture a growing share of the $15 billion annual venture capital technology market, with the UK already third in the world in this area. XR includes both virtual reality (VR) with its immersive headsets and games and augmented reality (AR), which is now widely used as an enhancement, for example in car satellite navigation systems.

Because it changes the way we see, XR changes the way we think. Although we use it in games and experiences – and sometimes just through a QR code – XR is more than a game.

XR already encompasses the full gamut of human pursuits, from computer games to medical research, and there are major funded projects across the university in areas such as virtual classroom, autism, life sciences life, motion sickness, privacy and surveillance and tourist attractions.

ARC XR researchers can take advantage of a state-of-the-art 18 x 6 m viewing facility on ARC Level 2, which can be divided into three research areas. This new space is one of the largest XR studios in the UK. It will provide unique opportunities in Scotland to push the boundaries of XR research. As well as housing Glasgow University researchers and students, it is an open space for external partners, charities, museums, galleries, organizations and businesses.

XR can and will change the way we see the world and the way we think, and solve problems in all areas. Now its opportunities can be explored like never before in a space that can change lives.

Professor Murray Pittock is Senior Pro-Vice and Chair of the XR Strategy Board at the University of Glasgow and is the current Scottish Knowledge Exchange Champion


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