Virtual reality museum brings art and artefacts to the world

A downloadable virtual reality museum has been developed that allows digital visitors to move around an array of exhibitions just as they would if they were visiting in reality.

Visitors can view the museum, dubbed Computer Love 2.0, on their computer using a keyboard and mouse, or with an Oculus Rift and paired game controller.

Developed by the University of Sheffield, the 3D gallery is stocked with virtual counterparts to real-world artefacts, taken from three of the university’s museums: the National Fairground Archive, the Turner Museum of Glass and the Alfred Denny Museum.

“We have created this gallery to give the rest of the world a digital ‘taster’ of the University’s most important cultural collections,” explained Dr Steve Maddock, from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Computer Science.

“We wanted to find a way to ensure that they were no longer confined to their physical location – it seemed such a shame that many of our treasures could only be viewed by a few lucky people.”

The prospect of using virtual reality to create museums and galleries is often mentioned when discussing the potential of Oculus Rift and other VR technologies, but this is one of the first times the concept has been put into practice.

The virtual gallery has been highly faithful to a real-world space, with everything from fire alarms and plug sockets to air vents and emergency exits being painstakingly recreated.

However, the virtual environment has enabled the developers to create displays that would have been highly challenging in reality, such as the National Fairground Archive section, which is entered through a huge, gaping mouth, and includes a 19th century ghost train experience.

Other elements of the collection include a digitised version of a mock glass slipper, the giant skull of an extinct form of eagle and a selection of guillemot eggs.


“Hopefully our art gallery – which explores the relationship between science and art by ‘displaying’ things like our half-specimens as artworks – will pique the interest of visitors and encourage them to make the trip to see the full collections in real life,” added Maddock.

Virtual museums are frequently proposed as a way of aiding learning, by giving students access to artefacts that may be thousands of miles away.

As VR becomes more mainstream we could also see major institutions, such as New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art or London’s British Museum, creating their own virtual versions, perhaps with exhibitions of items not normally on display.

We may even see virtual-only museums with visitor-submitted artefacts, developed along a similar model to Wikipedia. For now, though, Computer Love 2.0 presents an intriguing first look at the virtual museum.

Computer Love 2.0 can be downloaded for Windows, Mac and Oculus Rift here.

Images and video courtesy of the University of Sheffield.

Wanted man captured thanks to facial recognition

A Chinese man who was wanted by police for “economic crimes” – which can include anything from tax evasion to the theft of public property – was arrested at a music concert in China after facial recognition technology spotted him inside the venue.

Source: Abacus News

SpaceX president commits to city-to-city rocket travel

SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell has reiterated the company’s plans to make city-to-city travel — on Earth — using a rocket that’s designed for outer space a reality. Shotwell says the tech will be operational “within a decade, for sure.”

Source: Recode

Businessman wins battle with Google over 'right to be forgotten'

A businessman fighting for the "right to be forgotten" has won a UK High Court action against Google.. The businessman served six months’ in prison for “conspiracy to carry out surveillance”, and the judge agreed to an “appropriate delisting order".

Source: Press Gazette

UK launched cyber attack on Islamic State

The UK has conducted a "major offensive cyber campaign" against the Islamic State group, the director of the intelligence agency GCHQ, Jeremy Fleming, has revealed. The operation hindered the group's ability to co-ordinate attacks and suppressed its propaganda.

Source: BBC

Goldman Sachs consider whether curing patients is bad for business

Goldman Sachs analysts have attempted to tackle the question of whether pioneering "gene therapy" treatment will be bad for business in the long run. "Is curing patients a sustainable business model?" analysts ask in a report entitled "The Genome Revolution."

Source: CNBC

Four-armed robot performing surgery in the UK

A £1.5m "robotic" surgeon, controlled using a computer console, is being used to shorten the time patients spend recovering after operations. The da Vinci Xi machine is the only one in the country being used for upper gastrointestinal surgery.

Source: BBC

Virgin Galactic rocket planes go past the speed of sound

Virgin Galactic completed its first powered flight in nearly four years when Richard Branson's space company launched its Unity spacecraft, which reached supersonic speeds before safely landing. “We’ve been working towards this moment for a long time,” Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said in an email to Quartz.

Source: Quartz

Google employees protest being in "the business of war"

Thousands of Google employees, including dozens of senior engineers, have signed a letter protesting the company’s involvement in a Pentagon program that uses AI to interpret video imagery and could be used to improve the targeting of drone strikes. The letter, which is circulating inside Google, has garnered more than 3,100 signatures

Source: New York Times

Computer system transcribes words users “speak silently”

MIT researchers have developed a computer interface that transcribes words that the user verbalises internally but does not actually speak aloud. The wearable device picks up neuromuscular signals in the jaw and face that are triggered by internal verbalisations — saying words “in your head” — but are undetectable to the human eye.

Source: MIT News

Drones could be used to penalise bad farming

A report by a coalition of environmental campaigners is arguing squadrons of drones should be deployed to locate and penalise farmers who let soil run off their fields. Their report says drones can help to spot bad farming, which is said to cost more than £1.2bn a year by clogging rivers and contributing to floods.

Source: BBC

Californian company unveil space hotel

Orion Span, a California company, has unveiled its Aurora Station, a commercial space station that would house a luxury hotel. The idea is to put the craft in low-earth orbit, about 200 miles up, with a stay at the hotel likely to cost $9.5 million for a 12-day trip, but you can reserve a spot now with an $80,000 deposit.

UK mobile operators pay close to £1.4bn for 5G

An auction of frequencies for the next generation of mobile phone networks has raised £1.36bn, says regulator Ofcom. Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three all won the bandwidth needed for the future 5G mobile internet services, which are not expected to be launched until 2020.

Source: BBC