Collaborative work and environments using AR and VR

Teams and their collaborative efforts in the workplace are at the precipice of change thanks to some highly interactive and seamless technology. Augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) is finding its niche amongst schools, businesses, and offices and is accelerating the learning and work-flow process of engineers, doctors, teachers, and even students.

University of Calgary’s Collaboration Centre is a prime example of this revolution in the way we interact in the pursuit of meeting deadlines and pursuing extraneous goals.

How the Collaboration Centre works

The Collaboration Centre is a poorly lit laboratory in the Engineering wing of the University of Calgary that uses virtual and augmented reality technologies such as the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Microsoft HoloLens in combination with motion tracking, touch tables, robotics, and large scale engineering conferencing facilities.

The advanced tools are used in conjunction with students, professors and professionals in all fields of study to solve complex mathematical, geological and engineering problems as well as learning about all areas of science.

In a more specific example, petroleum engineers can use a VR headset in combination with the three-panel visualization screens to map out subsurface data of the geography and geology of an oil well site. The user can interact with the visualization screens and move through a 3D space to determine which method is best suited to extract oil based on its depth, angle and the type of rock or sediment blocking it.

A learning experience

When it comes to learning, education and fueling the fires of our future generations, these immersive technologies can also bring unexpected ways to visualize scientific concepts. Strapping on a set of virtual reality goggles, you can load up a 3D image of a human cell. By walking around in real space, and using the hand-held controls, you can navigate inside the cell and around the cell. For further clarity, each cell is labeled.

VR and AR are used heavily with younger kids from elementary up to junior high and high school. With visual and conceptual learning being much more impactful than reading textbooks or listening to lectures for many students, this technology also can be used as a fantastic teaching tool.


The Collaboration Centre at the University of Calgary is one of many research laboratories of its kind which are diving head first into reality tech in scientific problem-solving. The potential for this to start popping up in more mainstream classrooms, and in public and private school systems is integral to creating forward-thinking and imbuing a sense of passionate exploration in children and youth.

In mainstream science, engineering and health care this can help with accuracy in our calculations and decisions. Mix other technologies like laser and artificial intelligence tech and the growth rate and the exponential power of these combinations can revolutionize entire industries. Automating more of our problems or reducing the time it takes to solve them is a monumental deal in the 21st century, and labs like the Collaboration Centre may be the first step.

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