The Advanced Visualisation Lab at UNSW houses a variety of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies that are designed to push the boundaries of innovative education.

The equipment ranges from a floor-to-ceiling, 360-degree, 3D VR theatre also referred to as the Advanced Visualisation and Interaction Environment (AVIE), to mobile-based AR and consumer VR headsets like the Oculus Quest. These devices are used to immerse students in site environments, to explain complex four-dimensional concepts and to conduct interactive virtual group assessments.

We simulate various mine environments - from open-cut to underground, from hard rock to gas reservoirs. By using 3D simulation, potential hazards are safely experienced, designs are tested, and feasibility studies consolidated. Additionally, concepts and theories can be tested and challenged like never before.

The Advanced Visualisation Lab represents so much of what is important to us here at the School: innovation, high-quality education and industry partnerships. This technology has been developed in collaboration with our industry partners to provide training material for our students who have reaped the benefits ever since.

These innovations culminate in a vision that creates industry-relevant experiences, which travel far beyond the textbook - and directly to the heart of experiential learning.

How we use VR & AR Technology

We utilise both individual and multiplayer VR/AR technology for different purposes. The AVIE is our 3D VR theatre that can host up to 30 visitors at any time and has a closing door that provides a full 360-degree image. This image is useful to quickly immerse a group of students in a virtual world.

We use the latest VR headset technology such as the Oculus Rift, Oculus Go and Oculus Quest, which are selected for different types of media and experiences. We also have several multiplayer VR headset activities where the students can be guided by an expert or in teams to problem solve a design issue.

Students also have access to the latest AR hardware such as the Microsoft Hololens and mobile-based AR using iPads and Android devices to place virtual objects within the physical world that they can interact with and walk around. VR and AR are exciting fields as they open the possibility for students to have their own virtual mine models and equipment to take home and place on their desk to examine using their mobile device.

We pride ourselves on being a world leader in developing interactive VR/AR visualisation tools to enhance the student experience. We regularly host visitors from other mining universities show how our latest developments are making a difference in to how our students are improving. We specialise in developing engaging learning experiences that go beyond the pages of a textbook to help teach some of the more complex engineering concepts.

A tailored training program can be developed for anyone without a mining background. We’ll work with you to develop or tailor the topic areas based on our current modules. A simple assessment plan can also be developed and tailored to your needs.

VR/AR Modules

Currently, there are more than 20 modules available in the school. Some examples of our modules include:

  • Coal Burst: A simulated coal burst to allow the viewer to experience the event and then explore the aftermath to view animated videos of 8 contributing factors to a high coal burst prone environment
  • Petroleum Awareness: A virtual field trip to a simulated coal seam gas wellhead and oil wellhead with a cross-section explanation of the reservoir geology and well-established process. Then a visit to a series of offshore oil rigs for a 360o walkaround tour of the layout
  • Laboratory Rock Testing: A basic simulation of a UCS rock testing machine where a user can insert samples into a virtual testing machine and observe the results.