May 25, 2021 – From agriculture to architecture, health care to history, education to entertainment, virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) is proving its effectiveness in a wide variety of industries. Taking a deeper look at how VR/AR can help businesses of all sizes is the focus of Lethbridge College’s fourth-annual Merging Realties event.
Merging Realities 2021: Impact takes place on June 8, with a free multi-faceted program hosted over both Zoom and AltSpace platforms. The day begins with a special session specifically for people interested in becoming students in the college’s VR/AR or Architectural Animation Technology (AAT) programs. The main program will include presentations from industry partners on how they have worked with Lethbridge College to integrate VR and AR applications into their work, as well as a presentation on the applied research taking place at the college. The day finishes with a showcase of the work produced by students in the college’s VR/AR program.
“For the past few years, Lethbridge College has trained students in virtual and augmented reality, yet many people aren’t fully aware of the value it can bring to their business,” says Kris Hodgson-Bright, Digital Communications and Media instructor, and Merging Realities organizer. “This conference will help more people gain a greater appreciation for the incredible opportunities it creates and the ways it can be used in tourism, healthcare, architecture and training for all sectors.”
Virtual and augmented reality offers opportunities for industry to create realistic and interactive scenarios that support their work. Attendees of Merging Realities will have four presentations focused on VR/AR supporting business:
- The team from Economic Development Lethbridge will outline how the college has helped bring its events to businesses and organizations through the AltSpace virtual platform;
- Alvin Fritz will share how VR/AR has helped modernize his architecture business;
- Those involved in the CareGiVR project, which helps train health care professionals to care for people with dementia, will give an update; and
- College researchers involved in a collaborative project with Lethbridge Police Service will discuss the partnership, which explores how VR can be used to help police recruits develop communication skills to deescalate difficult situations.
“The demand for VR/AR solution development is dramatically increasing,” says Mike McCready, President’s Applied Research Chair in Virtual and Augmented Reality. “The Spatial Technologies Applied Research and Training (START) initiative at Lethbridge College is working with partners, alongside students and grads, to solve industry challenges with immersive technologies. With our expertise in curriculum design and applied research, we are uniquely positioned to support our partners as they dive into the next computing revolution.”
People interested in learning about becoming a student in the college’s VR/AR or AAT programs can join in a half hour session at 9:30 a.m. to talk directly to faculty members about the programs and the careers in technology waiting for them after graduation. Following the industry partner presentations, attendees can see first-hand the work being done by the college’s VR/AR and AAT students by joining a presentation in AltSpace, either through their computer or through a VR headset.
Lethbridge College is a leader in the VR/AR field, having launched the Virtual and Augmented Reality certificate and Architectural Animation Technology diploma programs in 2019. These programs integrate design and practice to create innovative solutions using cutting-edge technology.
Merging Realities started as the world's first full-day VR/AR conference held entirely in virtual reality and has evolved into an industry event for all students, businesses and VR/AR enthusiasts. The future student session beings at 9:30 a.m. on June 8. The event itself starts at 10 a.m., with the AltSpace student presentations at 11:15 a.m. Free registration is available at lethbridgecollege.ca/mergingrealities.