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UNNC VR research showcases virtual time travel

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SPARK visitors interact with virtual objects (photo: ATUM Images)

Professor Eugene Ch’ng, Director of NVIDIA Joint-Lab on Mixed Reality at the University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) was recently invited to an international event in Hong Kong, SPARK: The Science and Art of Creativity, where he and his team reconstructed Ningbo’s Sanjiangkou Site (a historical port from 13th century), using state-of-the-art photogrammetry and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies.

The event titled “Virtual Time Travel” took visitors back to the Yuan dynasty site, an important part of the Maritime Silk Road. Immersed with a VR headset within the richness of a computer graphics simulated virtual environment, visitors interacted with 3D objects and acted in the role either as a smuggler attempting to smuggle goods on merchant ships, or as a port officer checking against smuggling activities. Commercial goods such as silk, crystals, china, spices, paintings and so on were reconstructed based on historical records. To attract participants Professor Ch’ng used Augmented Reality (AR) to project an ancient mythical beast – the Qilin from the Beijing Palace Museum, right at the front of the exhibit tent.

Professor Ch’ng and his team’s research created a buzz in social media. Participants commented that they were amazed at the vividness of the imageries that present VR and AR technologies were able to simulate, and how they were able to learn cultural heritage by being transported back in time.

The digital reproduction of ancient artefacts was made possible with the support from Ningbo Museum and Zhejiang Science and Technology commonwealth programme. It is one of the many research projects that Professor Ch’ng is leading, both within China and globally where he is known for his expertise.

“Cultural heritage is being exposed to greater threats than ever,” he said during the Urban Repurposing panel session “but digital technologies are making it possible to both preserve and communicate, as well as mitigate against further damage towards the great treasures of our history.”

The British Council’s SPARK: The Science and Art of Creativity is an event billed as a cultural platform between the UK and Hong Kong, which celebrates creativity within and across the arts, sciences and education. Apart from Professor Eugene Ch’ng, several University of Nottingham’s academics also participated in the event from across the three campuses.

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Watch a video about Professor Eugene Ch’ng's VR project with Ningbo Museum

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Posted on 23 January 2019