Virtual Labs, Simulations, and Augmented Reality

 

Virtual labs include media and computer-supported formats used to replace or supplement real life applications in labs.

 

There are situations when it is not feasible for students to conduct laboratory experiments themselves because of issues related equipment access, time, costs, or safety. Lack of availability of equipment or personnel to run demonstrations during a fixed lecture time also pose limitations.

A series of ETS projects have focused on the use of virtual experiments, simulations, and augmented reality. The objective is to provide students with greater access and more flexibility to learn experimental techniques and gain familiarity with complex equipment, when it is not possible for them to conduct the experiments in actual lab facilities.

For example, virtual experiments, including a Virtual XRD Experiment are used in the "Materials Chemistry 1 Lab."

 
.
In "Introduction to Materials Mechanics," a course offered by the Faculty of Civil Engineering, simulations demonstrate how to measure mechanical properties of materials and display the resulting data.
 

In contrast to virtual reality, where the real word is replaced with a simulated one, augmented reality or AR, offers an enhanced direct or indirect view of a physical reality. The elements of this physical reality are supplemented with computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphic, or GPS data. With the help of AR technology, information about the reality surrounding the user is interactively and digitally manipulated. Additional information about the environment and its objects in the real world can be superimposed.