DoLA XR lab is an advanced center for exploring effective applications of Extended Reality (XR) technologies – including Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR) for advancing landscape architecture education and research. The lab currently leads several multidisciplinary and collaborative research projects focused on using immersive technologies to promote health, wellbeing, and learning.
1. Advancing Childcare Healthy Living by Interactive Virtual Tours
Can an existing cutting-edge internet-based marketing tool – high-quality interactive virtual tour (IVT) be used for health-promotion in childcare centers serving children aged birth to 5 that face the greatest barrier to good health? Licensed childcare centers (~125,000 centers nationwide serving 11M children), by improving their outdoor environments, can play a significant role in children's health and wellbeing.
Innovation is needed for promoting a culture of health of transforming childcare outdoor environments to childcare health-outdoors (CHOs) incorporating design best practices to encourage children's nature-interactions, physical activity, and healthy eating. Coalition for Natural Learning (CNL) at Texas Tech University (TTU), Natural Learning Initiative (NLI) at NC State University (NCSU), and Early Childhood Health Outdoors (ECHO) at the National Wildlife Foundation (NWF) will collaborate in this project with primary goals of
a) Promoting health equity by empowering and educating parents of children facing greater health barriers using IVTs as a decision-making tool for selecting childcare providers based on health amenities.
b) Increasing the visibility and disseminating evidence of CHOs' impact to increase the healthy living of children aged birth to 5.
c) Educating the next generation of designers willing to improve the environmental quality of children's spaces in communities lacking power and privilege.
2. Effectiveness of Virtual Reality Tools for Distance Learning in Environmental/Agricultural Education
Advances in technologies related to capturing high-resolution 360 images and videos for Virtual Reality (VR) contents have opened possibilities of innovations in creating engaging distance education tools. Potentials for VR as a pedagogical tool have been explored in different fields but their effectiveness for environmental and agricultural education is relatively unknown. The need for such innovations and research has increased due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic situation (and threats of recurrence in the near future) which is forcing educators to explore distance education tools to promote learning engagement and interactivity. The goal of this research is to take advantage of the new XR Lab (fully equipped with the latest VR technologies and resources) in the Department of Landscape Architecture (DoLA) and explore the effectiveness of a variety of VR tools in different CASNR distance courses. The proposed research is consistent with CASNR Strategic Priorities related to transdisciplinary collaborations within and beyond CASNR. Proposed activities will include collaborative meetings with CASNR faculties, IRB submission, developing VR learning tools, tool testing, and preliminary data collection regarding tool effectiveness and learning outcomes.
Theta V 360° spherical camera
Image sensor and processor produce more realistic 360° content. High-speed data transfer allows to quickly and wirelessly upload 14 megapixel stills and high-resolution videos for immediate showing and sharing. Omni- directional audio recording functionality enables 360° spatial audio.
Fusion captures 360-degree video and photos.
Matterport MC250 Pro2 Professional 3D Camera Panoramic
Capture and Map 360° Environment, create 3D Maps, Models, and Schematics, View Footage in 3D and VR Applications, Real Estate, Architecture, Engineering, Add Metadata, API for Custom Coding, High-Quality 2D Still Capture, Collaborate with Matterport Cloud, Leica BLK360 Integration Support.
The Leica BLK360
The BLK360 is a compact imaging laser scanner that uses a 360° laser distance meter and high definition panoramic imaging to create a 3D point cloud of the space around it.
Oculus Go: Standalone VR Headset
Oculus Go is a portable, all-in-one VR headset.
Mobile VR Headset
These headsets work with most cell phone models. Cell phones can be mounted in these headsets to experience VR contents.