£5m virtual reality centre launches in Portsmouth

The UK’s first purpose-built virtual reality (VR) centre, the Centre for Creative and Immersive Extended Reality (CCIXR), has launched at the University of Portsmouth.

The centre is billed as a one-stop-shop exhibiting the latest kit in virtual, augmented, and extended realities.

Some of the technology featured in the centre, much of which is being used to create virtual content in everything from Hollywood blockbusters to AAA videogames, is unavailable elsewhere in Europe or in any other university campus around the world.

The centre’s equipment includes WhiteLight SmartStage, where the three-dimensional sets can range from 360-degree images to entire digital worlds, computer-generated by the latest version of the Unreal graphics engine, and the Tesla suit - a wetsuit-like wearable packed with sensors which trigger sensations on the skin, such as the feeling of wind or rain.

At the grand opening event for the centre on 4 May, visitors were able to partake in virtual activities, with the use of VR headsets and booths, including walking on the moon, dancing through the streets with Marvel movie characters, and wearing a specialised glove giving users the ability to touch their virtual surroundings.

Beyond the exhibiting of the cutting-edge technologies, the longer-term aims of leaders at CCIXR will be to reach out to businesses and organisations across the UK from a diverse range of sectors to improve understanding of the technologies and to discuss the potential for future collaborations.

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