David Roberts, Professor of Telepresence in the School of Computing, Science and Engineering was the first to enable motion-tracked avatars to share the manipulation of virtual objects. His research linked 'task' to the shape and resolution of the display to support the efficiency of collaboration and enhance creativity. Roberts focuses on understanding the balance between the visual and spatial qualities of shared simulations. His research develops information rich spaces making the teamwork within them intelligible, flexible, productive and environmentally and economically efficient for a range of organisational settings.
In the late 90’s the principle of using 3D tele-immersion to overcome the 2D limitations of video conferencing was demonstrated in the United States in projects like the tele-immersive initiative and office of the future. While these demonstrated the principle of communicating both visual and spatial aspects of non-verbal communication, the quality of either was insufficient for general use or meaningful study. In 2003 David was the first to allow motion-tracked avatars to share the manipulation of virtual objects.
David showed that the efficiency of teamwork and conversation was related to the spatial match of the task and the display. He led the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council "eye-catching" project, partnering Salford with UCL, and Universities of Reading and Roehampton. This project produced the first communication system capable of communicating eye gaze between moving people and also linked the fit of task to both shape and resolution of the display, not only to efficiency of collaboration but also to creativity.
Jaguar Land Rover describes how Salford research, linking immersion to task performance and creativity, informed the design of its visualisation facility, leading to car designs that would not otherwise have been envisaged.
Following the commissioning of its Virtual Reality Centre at its Gaydon Design and Engineering Centre in 2008, Jaguar Land Rover has further invested in a new Virtual Innovation Centre (VIC) that provides a more flexible and sophisticated range of functions, which are bing used by more departments across the business.
Its design and functionality were influenced by research undertaken at the University of Salford by Brian Waterfield, Jaguar Land Rover's Virtual Reality Manager with Professor David Roberts to help explore virtual processes and understand how best they might be adapted for use in the automative industry.
The opening of the VIC in July 2013 reinforced Jaguar Land Rover’s position as an auto industry leader in harnessing the benefits of VR and high-end visualisation. Already it has played a crucial role in the delivery of the Range Rover Evoque; internationally acclaimed as one of the most exciting design concepts of its age, the new Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, and the Jaguar F-Type sports car.
"Jaguar Land Rover's investment in virtual tools and technologies has transformed its engineering and design capabilities, enabling quicker and more efficient processes to be introduced for advanced vehicle development, usingvirtual reality techniques to work faster and smarter, achieving higher levels of quality, durability and reliability in its vehicles with less reliance on expensive and time consuming prototypes. Rather than the low resolution typically favoured in the virtual imaging world, the research at Salford showed the importance of using fine detail." JLR