Cable Center Blazes the Trail with Immersive Online Educational Experience
New Exhibit Uses Virtual Reality to Create Unprecedented
Access to Historical Collections
DENVER, Aug. 2, 2016 – The Cable Center, a local nonprofit educational organization that tells the story of the cable industry, is using groundbreaking virtual reality (VR) to bring its historical equipment and technology archives to the world via an innovative new online exhibit. The Cable Center will demonstrate its work so far on a pioneering VR Exhibit during the 80/95 Awards, part of Millennial Weekend Denver, an event that promotes and presents ideas and trends reflecting the impact of Millennials on culture and society, Aug. 17-19 at the Denver Post, 101 W. Colfax Avenue Denver, CO 80202.
The VR Exhibit will offer a groundbreaking interactive experience and unprecedented access to more than 40 items from The Center’s Barco Library that tell the story of the technological contributions of the cable industry. When completed, the exhibit will allow visitors to view and manipulate objects and videos, and invites viewers to “step into” The Cable Center building to experience its beautiful spaces firsthand.
According to Diane Christman, senior vice president, programs and development for The Cable Center, “As the home to one of the premier collections of telecommunications equipment and technology, The Cable Center is always looking for ways to expand our reach and make our collections accessible to a wider audience. By using cutting-edge VR technology, our small but mighty team, comprised of a pioneering tech expert and maverick millennial have combined their experience and passion for the VR medium to build an innovative new exhibit that puts The Center at the forefront of today’s most creative and immersive exhibit experiences.”
The vision for the VR Exhibit goes back to 2013 when The Center recognized it needed to find a better way to provide global access to its collection that transcended its physical location in Denver. The Center named Steve Luiting, its design and development manager, as project leader and visionary of the VR Exhibit. Luiting took his passion for innovation and new technology to study VR, at a time when its commercial potential and viability was still unknown.
Luiting used his knowledge of nascent VR technologies, including WebGL and JanusVR, and decided to start with a basic CAD drawing and Google Sketchup model of The Cable Center. Luiting said, “The Sketchup model was very basic, with mostly only a floor plan and a few walls. Our exhibit now uses 3D models of both our building and archived objects. You can walk around our building, and virtually ‘pick up’ the objects and interact with them.”
Serendipitously, The Center had also hired a young intern that summer, Nic van Dessel, who was pursuing his degree in Emergent Digital Practices. Now The Center’s full-time virtual reality specialist, van Dessel was tasked with building out the Sketchup model and scanning selected items.
“Virtual reality is often confused with 3D, but here is the difference,” explains van Dessel. “3D enhances the viewing experience, whereas virtual reality creates a truly immersive experience. Viewers of VR typically use goggles that transport them into the 3D content and provides the ability to look and move around in 360 degrees.”
The Cable Center has brought the 3D replica of their building into a virtual world. A virtual visitor can move around the building, pick up and interact with 3D scanned objects, and read about them via an interface that appears when visitors get close to an item. The exhibit will also include 360 videos. All of these elements are combined inside of the Unity3D game engine, which will allow The Center to add support for the various headsets and distribution opportunities available to consumers.
Once the initial phase of the VR Exhibit is complete, The Cable Center will then move into Phase 2 of the project, which will create a multiuser capability and also offer the opportunity for future oral histories and the annual Cable Hall of Fame celebration to be shot in 360 video. These, as well as older 2D video versions, will display virtually in The Center’s Malone Theater.
About The Cable Center
Based in Denver, Colorado, The Cable Center is a nonprofit organization serving the cable telecommunications industry. The Cable Center is the home of the Cable Hall of Fame, recognizing individuals for their outstanding contributions to the industry, and of the Barco Library, the world’s largest collection of cable-related information and resources. Visit us at www.cablecenter.org, www.twitter.com/TheCableCenter and www.facebook.com/TheCableCenter for more information.