Latest virtual reality technology revives Sydney's past

SYDNEY, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- The latest and greatest virtual reality technology in Australia was on display at Western Sydney University on Friday, as a part of National Science Week.

Among the projects featured at the event, was a historical look at Sydney Harbour's Rocks area.

Now centred right next to the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, the picturesque location was not always so glamorous.

"The Rocks is the earliest post-contact, settled part of Sydney and around 1900, they were going to level the whole thing, it was a terrible slum, it was very rundown," creator of "The Rocks VR" Kate Richards explained to Xinhua.

"So the government architect was sent out to photograph the Rocks and a bunch of painters and visual artists were also sent out to the Rocks to capture it before it was all torn down."

While the demolition did not eventuate, the historic photographs and paintings of the area were digitally stitched together by Richards to create an immersive gateway to the Sydney's past.

Just a few years ago, it was nearly impossible for researchers and the public to utilize such sophisticated technology. However, Associate Professor of digital humanities at Western Sydney University Rachel Hendery said creating virtual reality is now much more affordable.

"Because so much more of a community has developed, it has really taken off," she said.

"I think the potential is that you can actually bring people into your research data and to me that is really exciting."

"Imagine if you can bring your friends, your colleagues, your students into a space and you can immersively experience the data that you are trying to describe to them."

Hendery was able to use this concept to design a piece with co-creator Andrew Burrell.

"I was working with archival data relating to endangered languages of the Pacific and Australia region and all of this is in an archive called Paradisiac, which is great but the user interface isn't exactly user-friendly and the general public is never going to experience that," Hendery said.

"So we wanted to bring that out of the archive and into your face."

"It gave a sense of what it is like when you are walking through the Pacific, you are seeing the landscape modelled around you, you're hearing the languages around you."

[ Editor: WPY ]


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