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Technical and scientific feasibility analysis of an immersive synchronous and multi-user virtual reality system about Brazilian pre-history for applications in museums and schools


Given the technological evolution of the media, the way as people interact with knowledge has changed: nowadays the Teaching-Learning process is not linear anymore, it is in fact a multiple link between paradidactic resources. This changes on the learning process rarely is approached at schools and the consequences of that is the lack of interests and an increasing school drop-out. According to an 2011 INEP's research, the declared reasons of teenagers to leave school have been much more the lack of interest (40%), than the need to pursue work and incoming (27%).It is noticeable the need to ally technology to current teaching methods in a way that stimulates the learning, rendering the education more captivating. In this scene, for more than three decades, the Virtual Reality (VR) field has been considered a powerful and flexible tool for educational applications. Fortunately, given the technological advances, high quality equipment with affordable prices, like Oculus Rift, entered the market, enabling the popular access to much better experiences. Traditional companies like Facebook, Google, Samsung, Sony and Microsoft have invested in VR. According to MarketsandMarket's report [1], the VR Market should raise to US$ 407.510.000,00 and will reach more than 25 million users by 2018.Aiming to bring people to the world of science and make education something fun and which to participate, the company that will host this research project has formed a partnership with the Museum Catavento Cultural de São Paulo for the development of the necessary infrastructure for the operation of an immersive living room with capacity for 25 people, having as the initial content an experience in a prehistoric Brazil. The subject of the adventure has been chosen given its multi and interdisciplinary content, added to many Brazilian scientific discoveries about Brazilian pre-history unknown to most people: more than 25 species of dinosaurs have been discovered in Brazil. The project's main challenge in this first phase is synchronization. Virtual reality systems require synchronization of vision, sound and movement of the user in order to be natural, even with the inevitable presence of network latency and jitter. The exact synchronization of the user's movement and the rendering is critical: delays higher than 100ms between the movement of a hand and its rendering can induce users to restrict to slow movements, while discrepancies between head movement and its rendering can cause nausea [2] [3]. In virtual systems with audio content, small delays in the sound output can confuse even experienced users, undermining the sense of immersion[4]. The main objective of this work is to develop means and methods necessary to create an immersive sync and multi-user virtual reality system aimed to museums and schools, ensuring the absence of nausea and sound delays noticeable to users, with the primary content the Brazilian prehistory. In this first phase, two species of Brazilian dinosaurs (Uberabatitan ribeiroi and Abelissauro) and their habitat will be modeled and animated with an expert and will be used as reference for the experiments. A comparison of the various graphical optimization methods will be carried out and applied to the graphics engine, seeking the best trade-off between quality, latency and performance. As next steps, the development of the full content on the Brazilian prehistory and the implementation of this system in Museum Catavento Cultural will be held. In addition, the framework will enable the development of new content in other areas such as aviation, military, oil, simulation and medical. (AU)

Articles published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the research grant:
<i>Startup</i> apoiada pela FAPESP cria exposição para o Museu Catavento