Vorarlberg gets virtual reality centre
Bordering three highly developed countries, Germany, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, Austria’s westernmost state Vorarlberg is ideally located for innovative minds and projects. The example of the virtual reality centre is no exception. Stretching the boundaries of computer science, the centre is able to explore and invent new multimedia applications.
"Virtual Reality Research Lab has been established with support from ERDF and has become part of the user centered technologies research institute at the polytechnic institute of Vorarlberg. Using this new research infrastructure we were able to build a new cooperation network with regional companies such as Benninger AG, Coaster GmbH, Doppelmayr GmbH, and ZF Friedrichshafen AG. What’s more, we were able to implement virtual reality as a new major field of study at polytechnic institute of Vorarlberg.”
Prof Dr Guido Kempter, head of the user centered technologies research institute
With backing from the EU and the Austrian government, the centre is able to bring these applications to bear in sectors ranging from medicine, architecture and industrial production to the entertainment industry.
Virtual reality studies
Although Vorarlberg has no university of its own, its workforce of roughly 145 000 has a very high standard of education. Besides the primary, secondary and higher education establishments, the polytechnic institute offers highly technical subjects such as production automation, internal process management and intermedia. A trainee programme is also an important part of the vocational education provided.
The virtual reality centre was set up at the polytechnic institute as part of its user centered technologies research unit. Activities undertaken at the centre have been incorporated into the institute’s degree course in media design. Virtual reality has now become a major new field of study at the institute.
One example of the new and improved facilities is a stereoscopic projection wall which enables users to interact with a virtual environment.
Opening up opportunities
The centre has created new opportunities for research and development with universities and companies in the region. It currently collaborates with 48 regional companies, undertaking market analysis, among other things.
The project is helping Vorarlberg attract and retain high-skilled workers after a period of exodus to industrial firms in the neighbouring countries.
In addition to product visualisation for architecture and specifically for museums, virtual reality is now being used in the centre for product evaluation for ergonomics and orthopaedics.