Discover the hidden secrets written in stone with this great VR app

  Last updated August 20, 2020 at 9:36 am

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Hallett Cove Conservation Park is a world-renowned site where you can explore millions of years of history right in front of you. Now you can explore it without leaving home.


Hallett Cove_beyond the ice_virtual reality

The Halley Cove Black Cliff in VR. Credit: UniSA


It’s one of the best-known geological heritage sites around the world, filled with fossils and glacial secrets. Now, thanks to virtual reality technology, the ice-age past of Hallett Cove Conservation Park can be explored in a new, gamified VR experience – Beyond the Ice.


The VR experience, launched as part of National Science Week, captures 17 key geological sites using 360-degree panoramas, drone 3D models and walk-through footage to immerse users in an interactive quest.


Users are challenged to identify fossils with a virtual hand lens, measure glacial grooves with a compass and draw the outlines of rock folds and layers that shape the landscape with digital ink.




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Users are also accompanied by the encyclopaedic ‘VT’ – a virtual robot guide with a geological memory spanning 600 million years – and can take part in quizzes, collect 3D pet rocks, and may even uncover a hidden Easter egg* or two.


Experience Hallett Cove from anywhere in the world


The VR experience was developed by the University of South Australia’s Project LIVE team in partnership with Framework VR and AusIMM.


Freely available online, the geo-challenge can be experienced from anywhere in the world – whether by choice, distance, to accommodate mobility constraints, or even in COVID-19 lockdowns – simply by using a VR headset.


Hallett Cove_beyond the ice_virtual reality

Sugaroaf: a delicate and intricate sugar-like mound made up of glacial sediments. Credit: UniSA


Project leader and geologist, Associate Professor Tom Raimondo from UniSA, says this unique virtual experience will entice and engage the imaginations of all.


“Unlike many VR experiences, this is a lot more than some pretty pictures and 3D models thrown together that don’t really offer much as a learning exercise. It was designed as an interactive, gamified experience that engages people in science by challenging them to unlock the geological secrets of Hallett Cove,” Raimondo says.




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“Through virtual reality, users can gain an amazing bird’s eye view of Hallett Cove – from the glacial striations of Black Cliff that show its ice-age connection to the South Pole, to the incredible Sugarloaf, a delicate and intricate sugar-like mound made up of glacial sediments that have been eroded over time.


“It’s an incredible way to see this stunning landscape in a way you’ve never seen before.”


VR adds provides flexbility to engage the next generation of science students


While Beyond the Ice has broad novelty and appeal, it also offers important educational aspects, particularly as an authentic supplement to fieldwork.


“Fieldwork is the most critical learning experience for any science student,” Raimondo says.


Hallett Cove_beyond the ice_virtual reality

Beyond the Ice brings the geological heritate site of Hallett Cove to life with gamified VR. Credit: UniSA


“Virtual reality experiences allow us to add an extra dimension to our usual field training, so that students can repeat, reflect on and extend their field skills across more locations than are logistically or financially feasible to visit first-hand. The world really is your oyster in VR.


“Not only does virtual reality provide a flexible way to engage the next generation of science students, it also lets us adapt the program to suit different audiences, different skill levels and different field locations, so it’s a really fantastic step forward in online and immersive learning.”


To find out more about Beyond the Ice, including community sessions, visit here.


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The University of South Australia is Australia’s University of Enterprise. Our culture of innovation is anchored around global and national links to academic, research and industry partners. Our graduates are the new urban professionals, global citizens at ease with the world and ready to create and respond to change. Our research is inventive and adventurous and we create new knowledge that is central to global economic and social prosperity.


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