Introduction

VR Lab has developed a VR application for Windpark Nijmegen-Betuwe where the user gets virtual access to a wind turbine, acting as a turbine mechanic.

The Client

Windpark Nijmegen-Betuwe is a private cooperative, owning 4 wind turbines, co-financed by citizens that directly reap the benefits by their lower energy bill. They asked VR Lab to create a VR application that allows a broad audience to learn more about this sustainable way of generating energy.

The VR application

We built an application in which the user acts as a wind turbine mechanic. They enter the wind turbine where they check the control panel, climb up to change a fuse and change the light on the roof of the turbine. This way the audience can get a more in-depth knowledge about the inner workings of wind turbines, without actually having to climb up a real one.

We collaborated with with dfab for the development of several plugins for Unreal. Al other work, including creative concept, modelling, graphic design, concept design and programming, has been done by VR Lab.

We developed the first versions of this application for HTC Vive. However, the complexity of setting up the HTC Vive tracking system meant that the Windpark Nijmegen-Betuwe always required on-site support from VR Lab to setup and run the application. Therefore we adapted the application for Oculus Rift S in the first halt of 2019. This now allows the client to run the application at their various events without any assistance. The Oculus Rift S has proven itself to be a very good system with reliable inside-out tracking which removes the necessity for additional tracking devices/beacons/light houses.

Challenges

This project had a high level of complexity, as we wanted to connect a detailed reproduction of the interior of a wind turbine with a comfortable ‘gameplay’, so that there would be a logical flow in the experience for the user. We built and tested different variants in order to find the right solution. Using a plugin developed by dfab, we were able to use exploded views. This feature makes it possible for users to replace a component within a wind turbine part (such as the yaw drive) by visually pulling the turbine part apart and change the faulty component.

Future

Now that the energy transition has gained momentum, more and more wind turbines will pop up in our landscape. Energy cooperatives owned by citizens are becoming more common too. However, there is still a lot of protest against having a wind turbine nearby, often fuelled by misconceptions. With this application, developers of wind turbine parks can show everyone the facts about the wind turbine and create more understanding and knowledge about these power generators of the future.