Collaborative research in joint (tele-) immersive virtual environments

Key challenges in a nutshell

  • development of collaborative virtual environments for the subsurface

Short description of the technology

The development of numerical modeling software and virtual/ augmented reality technology have led to an improved computation and visualization of processes, such as ground motion, which are inherently difficult to observe since they occur and interact with infrastructures in the near-surface. The aim of this technology development is to link process visualisation in collaborative immersive virtual environments with the representation of infrastructure and geological and geophysical modelling.

State of the Art: technology in existing gravitational wave detectors / TRL

VR/XR technology is now widely used in numerous fields to support learning processes (also in psychology), partly also in Geosciences, but very rarely to help collaboration – though tele-immersion and joint immersion in the same model environment is now possible. For instance, Stereopsia organized its first virtual workshop event, with the possibility to join it within an immersive environment, in Brussels (simulating the Atomium as conference center) in December 2020. In the field of logistics, industry 4.0 there is a wide range of applications of VR/AR to support the processes (e.g. remote maintenance of machines).

Intended use in the frame of the Einstein Telescope

Interaction with model elements, supporting collaborative model creation (dynamic interaction of the components), exchange between experts and stakeholders (and SMEs) within a collaborative tele-immersive virtual environment. There is a close interaction between the technology fields “3D earthquake and ambient noise wave propagation simulation” and “Geomodeling and GeoBIM integration”.

Improvements needed: Technological challenge for the Einstein Telescope

  • Collaborative interaction and illustration of geological/geophysical data
  • Processing of big data of high complexity in the VR/AR systems

Collaborative virtual (tele-)immersive environments are certainly not common, especially in the field of geosciences.  Partners in Aachen and Liege work on the use of VR/XR (Virtual/Extended Reality) technology to support 3D geo- and numerical model construction, allowing working group members to ‘meet’ and thus collaborate within the model. This technology certainly may also help replace the current 2D tele-conferencing tools (Zoom, etc.), as it allows for a simulation of a full 3D virtual immersive meeting room, where participants appear as avatars.

A collaborative virtual immersive laboratory is now being installed in some E-Test partner laboratory.

Economic perspectives of participation beyond the ET applications

There is a potential to use the interaction of engineering data and geological/ geophysical data for civil engineering issue (e.g. tunnel construction or other underground constructions). GeoBIM is a field of highly dynamic developments with a huge need of spatial modelling of relevant geological and technical data.

Also in the field of precision agriculture or in the development of new agricultural approaches the VR/AR technology can help to get a better idea of the soil layer structure.

We are open to any other companies’ proposals.

Related projects and labs

Horizon2020 Cost Action proposal involving also some E-Test project partners is being evaluated.

FARMIN – Field Augmented Reality in Mineral Exploration and Mining project within the European EIT Raw Materials initiative.

Different initiatives at RWTH Aachen university to integrate VR/AR application in academic teaching.

Ongoing and future procurements

Not covered by E-TEST at this moment, but a Horizon2020 Cost Action proposal (see ‘Source’ information above) involving also some E-TEST project partners is being evaluated

Business Development contacts

Peter Gier

Dirk Kalinowski

Michel Stassart
Skywin BE –

Maxime Corvilain
POM Limburg BE –

René Kessen

Technology contact

Florian Wellmann
RWTH Aachen DE –

Hans-Balder Havenith

Geo-Env, University of Liège –