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DPAG researchers participated in the Oxford Digital Festival to showcase a virtual reality (VR) experience created by the interdisciplinary Shaping Destiny public engagement project.

DPAG's Srinivas Shankar with collaborator Kostas Pataridis at the Oxford Digital Festival

Oxford Digital Festival was an event that showcased University ‘digital’ efforts, open to all staff. It took place at the Jesus College Digital Hub. It was an opportunity for members of the public to meet innovators from across Oxford to explore how they are shaping Oxford’s digital future.

DPAG’s Professor Shankar Srinivas and Dr Tomoko Watanabe became involved (with additional volunteers) as part of a Wellcome-Oxford IREF funded public engagement with research project, Shaping Destiny ( Shaping Destiny was a public engagement project led by Professor Srinivas and Dr Watanabe in collaboration with Professor Wes Williams, Director of TORCH, to engage young people of Oxford with their research on biological and historical perceptions underpinning our form.

Tomoko said, ‘This was an opportunity for members of the University to come and talk to us about our volume scanning approach using portable equipment, that we developed for our community engagement project, Shaping Destiny. Kostas's scanning technology does not require people to wear mocap suits, enabling us to scan people of different shapes and abilities. it works outside exclusive specialist studio spaces, opening up possibilities for more inclusive participation. Participants were able to experience the VR based art created along with young people of Oxford with different abilities.’

At the festival stall, Kostas Pataridis (Andromeda Software Development explained the portable technology he developed to do volumetric scans of people of different abilities to achieve inclusivity. Shankar and Tomoko helped the visitors experience the VR program.

The technology used in the project was innovative because standard motion capture suits which use a studio full of cameras not only limit who is scanned and where, and but they also only capture movements and skeletons. In order to really bring a wider range of people into the virtual space, rather than giving them an artificial avatar, Kostas (pictured above left with Shankar, right) chose to develop the technology so that the truer shapes of people would be represented.