University of Pretoria inaugurates new immersive technology lab

16th April 2024 By: Darren Parker - Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online

University of Pretoria inaugurates new immersive technology lab

The University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology has launched a new immersive technology lab at the Department of Information Science as a way of further integrating advanced immersive technologies into its curriculum and research initiatives.

The immersive technology lab has its roots in the early integration of virtual reality (VR) technology within the department, dating back to 2013. The acquisition of early VR headsets allowed honours students to immerse themselves in the forefront of technological innovation.

As the appeal of VR grew, the lab evolved into the VR and interaction (VRI) lab, which was formally inaugurated in February 2018, to accommodate a larger cohort of students.

The VRI lab has helped to familiarise business information systems (BIS) multimedia students with VR equipment, enabling them to develop applications that leverage the immersive capabilities of this technology.

This initiative was designed to ensure that students are equipped with essential skills to meet the growing demand for immersive technology expertise across various sectors.

In recent years, the lab has played a crucial role in both the BIS multimedia honours and master's programmes, with students succeeding in conceptualising high-calibre VR research applications and games. The lab's infrastructure has also supported master's students in developing bespoke applications for their studies, showcasing the transformative potential of immersive technology in academic research.

The inauguration of the immersive technology lab in 2024 is an evolution from the VRI lab, extending access to immersive technology to the wider university community.

The lab serves multiple purposes, such as introducing staff and students to immersive technology, providing a platform for students to develop immersive experiences, investigating the integration of immersive technology into pedagogy, and fostering transdisciplinary collaboration.