Ever wondered if you’d make good decisions in a crisis? Could you keep your cool in a space age disaster? Well students at Coventry University have developed a range of virtual reality (VR) scenarios designed to test business leaders and develop teamwork.
Coventry University, Glued Marketing, and Risk Evolves hosted an event called the Unconventional Convention, at the university’s new Delia Derbyshire building, inviting local businesses to come and try out the technology.
Using VR headsets, groups were invited to complete four different puzzles, all set on a spaceship, rapidly descending into a black hole.
Participants wore VR equipment and described what they were seeing to colleagues, who in turn helped guide them through the scenario, solve the puzzle and save the team from annihilation.
Ultimately whether the groups were successful didn’t matter, with the exercise designed to see how different approaches to problem– solving and decision- making could benefit the entire team.
Dr Bianca Wright, curriculum lead for immersive and cluster lead for creative technologies at Coventry University, said: “This is an opportunity for businesses to experiment not only with some of the emerging technologies like virtual reality, but also to consider how they work together in teams, how they work in terms of problem solving.
“The company we’re working with, Risk Evolves, wants to test how people respond to scenarios that they are not familiar with; I don’t think anyone has ever been on a spaceship that’s about to be consumed by a black hole! It seemed like a good scenario to test how people react in stressful situations where they need to work together as a team to solve a problem.
“Our students have really benefitted from this project; it’s an opportunity for them to test their work, work to a client brief, to understand what business needs are in terms of immersive technologies and to interact and articulate their work to real professionals.”
Third– year Digital Media student Ekari Kapondo, who helped design the VR scenarios, said: “It was fun to work with my classmates to make this experience. We all chipped in our ideas to create this. It’s great to see it put into action because we were unsure at first how it would pan out, it was quite stressful making it, but seeing everyone using it is very fulfilling.
“Digital media is a vast course which develops a range of different skills, from modelling and digital marketing to making VR experiences, so I think it’s very good because you can try out different things and see what works for you and pursue that.”
One of the business leaders to try out the technology was Martin Clarke, Head of Commercial Partnerships for Coventry City Council.
He said: “It was a little bit strange at first seeing the floor moving and things moving around you, I didn’t get a sicky feeling, but it was just a little strange. But as you start to go through the rooms and get familiar with the controls, it felt more natural.
“When you’re in the space it’s very immersive so it felt like I was in there. I forgot that I was standing in a room with people on the table next to me – I felt immersed in the subject.
“This has superb value in team building and communication within teams. As you are isolated, literally ‘in Space’ when having the headset on, clear instructions and continued communication was key to successfully completing the mission. A person can say one thing, and the other person, hear something else, so continued clear dialogue was essential. Skills you need for high performing teams.”
The Unconventional Convention was organised with the companies Glued Marketing and Risk Evolves.
To find out more about studying Digital Media at Coventry University visit https://www.coventry.ac.uk/course-structure/ug/fah/digital-media-ba-hons/