The application fields for virtual reality are countless today, from architecture to engineering, cultural heritage, medicine and sport, to mention a few. In these fields, virtual reality represents an incredibly powerful tool, a true disruptive technology capable to change the way education, design, simulation and training are carried out.
Many of the major technical universities across the world built (or are building) their own laboratories and competence centers to address virtual reality and related technologies from a multi-disciplinary perspective, coping both with research challenges concerning technical aspects as well as with practical issues arising in envisaged application scenarios.
Politecnico di Torino has historically carried out research and teaching activities on the above themes within two complementary structures:
- the research laboratory of the GRAphics and INtelligent Systems group at the Department of Control and Computer Engineering (DAUIN), which oversees the technologies pertaining computer graphics, virtual, augmented and mixed reality, computer vision and information visualization;
- the Drawing TO the Future laboratory at the Department of Structural, Geotechnical and Building Engineering (DISEG), which uses virtual and augmented reality in the application domains of construction engineering and, specifically, in the field of Building Information Modeling (BIM).
In order to make these and other local initiatives converge, on November 2017 the Board of Governors of Politecnico di Torino launched the VR@POLITO initiative and funded the creation of a laboratory meant to support activities on virtual reality and related technologies.
The laboratory presently includes two nodes, or hubs (one at DAUIN, focusing on technology and research, the other at DISEG, focusing on applications) and leverages competences and spaces available at these and other Departments with the support of the Information Technology Area of Politecnico di Torino. With the aim to avoid the scattering of resources and capitalize investments made in terms of human resources and equipment, this core is expected to grow in the future, with the integration of further hubs complementing currently available capabilities.
The laboratory adopts a distributed coordination scheme, with a Coordinator and a Steering Committee. Besides representatives for current Department’s hubs, activities involve several Participating Members and Collaborators.
The laboratory will work on the cutting edge of technology in the fields of virtual, augmented and mixed reality, by designing, developing and testing innovative tools and services capable to enhance, also thanks to the role played by the Information Technology Area, the implementation and exploitation of research and teaching activities in these domains at Politecnico di Torino.
These efforts will be accompanied by activities aimed to improve the visibility of competences of both Politecnico di Torino’s staff and students in these areas, in order to draw the attention of external stakeholders and potential investors at both the local, national and international level.