Tayside and Central Scotland

3D virtual reality tours of RRS Discovery developed

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Media captionA full laser scan of the RRS Discovery was carried out by Digital Surveys

A 3D virtual reality tour of the historic RRS Discovery ship in Dundee is being developed.

A recent laser survey of the ship, which was sailed to Antarctica by Captain Scott, has made virtual tours using the Oculus Rift headset possible.

Dundee Heritage Trust and laser scanning firm Digital Surveys are using video game technology to build up a realistic 3D version of the ship.

A completed prototype allows users to explore the ship's wardroom.

The current programme lets users move around a detailed reproduction of the room, sit at the table and peek into Ernest Shackleton's cabin, while future possibilities include walking the decks and climbing the rigging.

The virtual tour is conducted through the Oculus Rift, an immersive gaming headset which Facebook bought the rights to for £1.2bn earlier this year.

Dundee Heritage Trust is aiming to raise £50,000 to develop a virtual reality tour covering more of the ship, along with a tablet and mobile phone application version for those without headsets.

Image copyright Dundee Heritage Trust
Image caption The current virtual tour allows users to explore the ship's wardroom
Image copyright Dundee Heritage Trust
Image caption The inside of the ship has been rendered in precise detail using video game technology
Image copyright Dundee Heritage Trust
Image caption Future versions could allow users to move around the ship's deck and climb the rigging

Operations director Mark Munsie said the original laser survey, which had aimed to produce an accurate record of the ship's structures for conservation planning, had provided the opportunity to develop the virtual tour.

He said: "The prospect of people at home all over the world being able to explore the ship in 3D is very exciting.

"It also opens up the visit experience to people with disabilities who would otherwise be unable to climb up to the bridge or go below decks."

The project to date has been funded by the Scottish government's recognition fund, awarded by Museums Galleries Scotland.

Chief executive Joanne Orr said Museums Galleries Scotland was "delighted" to support the project.

She said: "Bringing Captain Scott's ship directly to people in their own front rooms and offices around the world is a fantastic achievement, and Dundee Heritage Trust is reinforcing the city's status as the technology capital of Scotland with this innovative project."

Image copyright Jim Barton
Image caption The real RRS Discovery was sailed to Antarctica by Captain Scott and Ernest Shackleton

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