Virtual sightseeing with DreamFlux

Visitors to Wellington International Airport can take a virtual trip to Singapore and beyond with a new virtual reality (VR) experience produced with help from Victoria University of Wellington technology.

The experience is the first of its kind anywhere in the world, and was set up to celebrate the first anniversary of Singapore Airlines flying to Wellington.

The creation of the experience has been led by Wellington International Airport and Wrestler—a Wellington-based content creation company that specialises in VR and augmented reality.

Seated in a custom-made ‘travelling trishaw’, the experience takes the user on an interactive journey from a first class seat on board a Singapore Airlines Boeing 777, onto Changi International Airport and then prompts the user to choose their final destination; London, Phuket or Singapore.

The fully immersive and interactive experience means users can manipulate their surroundings—by sending paper lanterns into the sunset in Phuket, playing the drums at the changing of the palace guard in London and catching butterflies at Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay.

“Creating a fully immersive journey that takes Wellingtonians to the world with Singapore Airlines was a great challenge and one we wanted to make sure would stand out on a global stage,” says Wrestler’s Kat Lintott.

Wrestler employed the help of DreamFlux, an early stage venture within Victoria University’s commercialisation office Viclink, founded on technology led by Associate Professor Taehyun Rhee from Victoria’s Faculty of Engineering.

DreamFlux provides a cutting-edge solution for interactive cinematic experiences, by analysing 360 degree video and detecting light conditions, applying accurate lights, reflections, shadows, and blending digital objects into real world 360 degree videos in real-time.

“The use of this software means that lighting and shading move with the object. So when anyone interacts with it, including picking it up and moving it, it still looks very realistic,” says Associate Professor Rhee.

Associate Professor Rhee was recently awarded a $1 million research grant from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Smart Ideas funding. In this three-year project, the computer graphics lecturer will further develop the DreamFlux technology and examine how to capture real-world lighting and reflections in augmented and mixed reality applications.

He is also the deputy director of Victoria’s new Computational Media Innovation Centre. The Centre will incubate potential start-ups and industry pipelines to strengthen New Zealand’s computing and media ecosystem, and develop extensive links with international gaming and anime companies and institutes.