Two Ontario colleges, Durham College and Sheridan College, are teaming up to use augmented reality to capture movement.
Durham will use its Mixed Reality Capture Studio (MRC) and Sheridan will use its Screen Industries Research and Training Centre (SIRT).
The two schools formed a partnership in August.
“SRIT’s has been around for about a decade, actually starting mainly in film and television, but about five years ago we got more heavily into augmented reality and virtual reality,” said Vicki Mowat, director of research at Sheridan College.
John Goodwin, Durham’s Game Art program coordinator, said the MRC has been a pilot program for about two years and officially launched in January. Goodwin said the MRC is a “lab like no other in the province and one of the only few in the country.
“It’s a win-win-win situation,” said Goodwin, noting smaller businesses get access to technology they would not be able to afford and students get the opportunity to work with small businesses in real world projects.
Students are working as research assistants with the smaller and medium-sized companies on campus and already have working projects on their resumes, said Goodwin.
This project is getting $100,000 in funding from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP).
The students are working alongside another funding company called Farm Ventures – a mobile software development company.
The company and the students have created was a mobile app, called Catch Drive VR, which develops a human interface as a virtual horse racing game, said Debbie McKee Demczyk, dean of Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, at Durham College.
Students are creating custom hardware and software for an arcade human interface device. The software will look like the reins are actually attached to the horse.
The technology they use is virtual reality and emotion capture which are directly related to the gaming industry.
Durham will create a couple of projects themselves; Sheridan will do their own projects and then they both will create one collaborative project, virtually.
Durham’s role at the college is to work with these small and medium-sized companies to provide them with experience and technology to put their ideas into motion, said Goodwin.
Goodwin said the students do a lot of motion capture work both in capture directing, but also in data clean up, data broadcasting to real time engines.
Goodwin said the schools were doing something collaborative without even realizing it.
Added Mowat: “The NRC IRAP was looking for an opportunity to support funding multiple colleges together to provide a specific set of research services to industry partners.”
Half of the money will go towards Durham and the other half towards Sheridan.
“It will be divided into five equal pockets,” Goodwin said, “a small percentage will go to equipment, but (the) majority of the money will go towards hiring students and researchers on projects to work with the small and medium-sized companies.”
The students “already learn quite a bit about augmented reality in the classroom but now they get to sink their teeth into it and do a deeper dive into the techniques or the area of focus they want to do,” said Goodwin.
“For the college, the opportunity to work with these smaller companies is about building relationships within our community. It’s about sharing back and forth and for our faculty to keep current with industry trends, best practices and the challenges being faced by businesses today,” said Goodwin.
Mowat said, “I am hopeful this is a start of just a fabulous collaborative relationship… MRC at Durham College and SIRT at Sheridan College will undertake similar areas of research but yet offer unique perspectives as well.”