Hardware: HTC Vive/Vive Pro Eye, Microsoft Hololens, InterSense motion tracking sensors, Oculus Rift S, Varjo XR-1
Industry: Academic Research
Use Case: Wine & General Consumer Behaviour Research
Over the past 2 and a half years Brock University has built The Rankin Family Pavillion (RFP). With over $8.5 million from the federal government and local partners, this building allows collaboration in many fields. This will include ideas from literature to prototyping, neuroscience to networking, wet labs to web apps: Brock LINC is a bridge between academic interest and creative problem-solving that gives participants the skills to build businesses, strengthen organizations, and contribute to the region, to the nation, and to the world.
A large focus of the academic collaboration will be between the wine and marketing departments in the R3CL lab. The R3CL lab is a multi-purpose consumer behaviour lab funded by CCOVI (the wine department at Brock) and allows for consumer behaviour research through either Virtual, Augmented or Physical Reality (VR/AR).
The researchers at Brock University have lots of experience on the “Physical Reality” side of research but not so much in VR or AR. This meant when constructing the R3 Consumer Lab, Brock required consulting on how to construct the physical research space and on what equipment to purchase to fill the space. From there Brock professors realized that even though AR/VR equipment has become more user-friendly over the years, there are can still be problems that arise when dealing with new technology. Thirdly, researchers wanted to conduct innovative research meaning they need their own custom software both to engage participants and collect data properly. Lastly, CCOVI wanted to ensure there was something to show off at the grand opening of the lab so that attendees could understand how the lab would be used instead of seeing an empty room.
With the grand opening of the lab just 3 months away CCOVI was looking for something to demonstrate how the lab could be used but that would also be useful to future researchers.
XpertVR offered to contract their services on a yearly basis to become the R3CL’s managers and consultants. By having XpertVR on contract to run the lab we are able to assist professors and students on how to use the equipment and how it could apply to their research. This also enables us to offer our in-house analytic tools to the lab for each simulation we design so that they can harness the true power of AR/VR.
Beyond managing/consulting on the lab, CCOVI’s urgent challenge of creating a simulation to both showcase the lab’s capabilities and be useful for future researchers was even tricker on the short deadline we had. But with these two objectives in mind, XpertVR quickly adopted 3D scanning technology to create millimetre accurate models of a local wine store. Combined with industry-leading game engines and 3D modelling software the Virtual LCBO was born. During the grand opening, the Virtual LCBO allowed visitors to experience the look and feel of a VR shopping experience while learning about different types of wine. And, now that the LCBO is built it can be used in many types of consumer behaviour research with little cost/work for the researchers themselves.
Results & Feedback
XpertVR has been managing the R3 Consumer Lab since mid-2019. Over this time the launch of the lab went off without a hitch with many local investors, Brock faculty and government officials giving the lab and the Virtual LCBO praise. As well as many of the visitors being truly amazed at what is possible in research today. The lab also received international recognition in the TV show Corkscrewed and in multiple news articles. In early 2020 we ran the first research study in the lab, being our High Seas simulation which exceeded everyone’s expectations in both engagement and research results. Lastly, because of COVID-19 most of the lab had to shut down but XpertVR was able to quickly create the Research Access Portal a website that allows the lab’s researchers to run their research remotely.
Our lead contact from CCOVI’s only advice for other potential clients was “don’t hesitate to engage them.”
Lab demonstrations performed: 150+
Remote participants involved in studies: 90
Participants ran through the physical lab: 400+