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VSimulators - Exeter

Located at Exeter Science Park, the University of Exeter VSimulators facility can recreate any environment either physically or virtually, immersing up to nine research volunteers in a simultaneous experience.

Open from March 2020

The Exeter VSimulator offers a unique, state of the art platform for multi-disciplinary research

Whether your research involves working in a high rise office building, walking across wobbly bridges, watching a match in a football stadium, exploring your newly designed building, investigating biophilic design, understanding human responses to motion or dancing in a virtual reality created crowded concert venue, we can provide the multi-disciplinary capability to fully explore human-environment interactions.

VSimulators Key Features:

  • 8m x 8m self contained room with full body motion capture using a camera array
  • a custom designed 3.7m x 3.7m Octopod motion platform with freedom of movement in six directions (designed and developed by E2M Technologies, Amsterdam, in collaboration with the University of Exeter) (see image below)
  • platform acceleration range: 0.5Hz-40Hz
  • platform displacement range: +/- 21mm
  • a fully instrumented floor with nine AMTI forceplates
  • virtual reality simulation of an existing environment for up to nine occupants configured with the motion platform (designed and developed by Holovis, in collaboration with the University of Exeter)
  • state of the art HMDs (Head Mounted Displays)
  • motion tracking of occupants
  • physiological recording of human factor responses
  • synchronised raw data streams
  • data analytics and reporting capability

The VSimulators facility at the University of Exeter can be customised to fully explore the sensory immersion and human factor responses by the occupants. We can design bespoke environments to support immersive research.

Virtual Reality Capability

VSimulators at the University of Exeter offers a range of virtual reality environments such as a grandstand experience, walking along a footbridge and operating within a busy office.

Immersed in virtual reality, up to nine research volunteers can simultaneously move freely around the space, interacting with avatars of the other participants in the virtual world, all tracked to their unique perspective.

Alternatively, our team can support the design of bespoke virtual reality scenes according to the requirements of industrial and academic clients. This capability includes the use of 360 real life video footage or Unity designs created by in-house developers.

Room Within A Room

Additionally, the 8m x 8m space can be configured to accurately recreate an existing environment, with walls and physical objects placed where a virtual equivalent would be located.

Full details on the Technical Specification for VSimulators at University of Exeter can be found in the downloadable link here:

Technical Specifications Exeter

The VSimulators chamber - University of Exeter

The VSimulators control room - University of Exeter

Professor James Brownjohn (VSimulators PI) talks about the impact of VSimulators on future multi-disciplinary research

Professor Vicki Goodwin MBE (VSimulators Co-I) talks about VSimulators in clinical based research into balance and movement in people

Gillian Browning, BuroHappold Engineering, talks about how VSimulators will support client understanding of vibrations in structures

Chris Pembridge, WSP Director, talks about VSimulators and the opportunities for industry

Click on the video to see the VSimulators platform during the factory acceptance testing design process.

Professor Paul Reynolds (VSimulators Co-I) talks about the opportunities VSimulators will offer in his research field

VSimulators platform being used in an experiment on triggering trips and falls by Dr Will Young

Professor Aleksandar Pavic (VSimulators Co-I) explains how VSimulators will provide a platform for multi-disciplinary research

Dr Will Young talks about his psychology based research on anxiety and Parkinsons which will be supported using VSimulators

Feedback on the VSimulators facility at University of Exeter

"This new world class facility will help us to better understand how people move. This will help us to create supportive environments, for example for people with dementia or Parkinson's. It will also help us develop rehabilitation programmes, including those using technology, to improve movement and ultimately wellbeing" - Professor Vicki Goodwin, University of Exeter Medical School

“Increasingly, people are living and working in innovative environments where very little is known about the impact of the vibrations or their environment. The highly realistic nature of this multi-sensory environment will give them a true sense of immersion, making them believe they are in that location. Therefore they will subconsciously react to stimuli as they would in the real world. The flexibility of the VSimulators allows for an incredible range of conditions to be simulated, which will really help to advance the research and innovation in many sectors.” - Dave Elliott, Business Development Manager at Holovis

Click here for information on VSimulators at University of Bath

Design, Construction and Handover of the VSimulators facility at University of Exeter

VSimulators at the University of Exeter took 24 months to create, from original idea through to construction. With dedicated support from suppliers including Holovis - Experience Designers, E2M Technologies in Amsterdam and Morgan Sindall, a purpose built facility was created, drawing together specialist skills from across Europe. The images below show some of the key stages in the construction with more details being found in the news page.

The Engineering Research building at Exeter Science Park, which houses the VSimulators facility, was officially handed over in January 2020.

Turf cutting ceremony for VSimulators at Exeter Science Park in March 2019.

VSimulators team inspecting the space created to install the concrete block and base frame.

Having dug a large hole in the ground, a 50 tonne concrete inertia slab was cast, to hold the base frame and actuators for the VSimulators motion platform, to minimise interference from external vibrations.

VSimulators at Exeter Science Park - concrete base and foundations under construction for the platform, as viewed from the second floor.

VSimulators at Exeter Science Park - building foundations and concrete block for the motion platform, under construction.

Whilst the building is constructed in Exeter, the design process continues in the Netherlands

The upper frame is assembled at a specialist factory in the Netherlands.

The base frame design is commissioned and manufactured in Amsterdam.

The University of Exeter Engineering Research Centre at Exeter Science Park, which will house the VSimulators facility, starts to take shape.

VSimulators at Exeter Science Park - the building frame taking shape

VSimulators at Exeter Science Park - the platform area under construction

Having completed the upper frame for the VSimulators motion platform, everything is sent to Amsterdam for assembly and first stage testing.

The V profile for VSimulators upper frame, which helps provide rigidity in the motion platform.

VSimulators motion platform, assembled and ready for testing at E2M in Amsterdam.

The University of Exeter Engineering Research Centre reaching the final stages of construction, with windows installed ready for precision installation of the VSimulators equipment.

The University of Exeter Engineering Research Centre at Exeter Science Park, housing the Exeter VSimulators facility, is handed over by Morgan Sindall in an official ceremony - January 2020.