With the help of new 3-D technology, you can go underwater and swim with farmed salmon. Or fly down a ski jump. Or study how brain cells work. This technology originally came out of the gaming world, but is rapidly being developed into an important research tool.
The project developing the simulator is being undertaken in collaboration with Måsøval salmon farms in Frøya, Sør-Trøndelag, on the central Norwegian coast.
“This technology might help create interest in aquaculture in the younger generation,” said Ekaterina Prasolova-Førland at NTNU's Faculty of Social Sciences and Technology Management.
The program uses Oculus Rift 3-D goggles, where you can look around a virtual reality just by turning your head, and carry out different actions using a video game controller. Several large companies are investing in this type of technology.
The virtual salmon farm simulator was presented during Ocean Week in Trondheim in the beginning of May. Master’s student Anders Bøe is behind the programme.
“We’ve also presented the simulator during an open day at NTNU, at the tourist information office, at the science centre and the salmon festival in Frøya. We’ve got a lot of positive feedback,” said Ms Prasolova-Førland.
Intended to create interest
Monicha Seternes from Måsøval fish farming industries has spend the past few days presenting the simulator to children on Frøya. It has been a great success, and feedback from the participants has been important to continuing development of the simulator.
“We’re working on establishing a centre around the simulator on Frøya, and have ambitions to develop Norway’s first aquaculture simulator for breeding,” says Ms Seternes, who is head of Environment and Development at Måsøval.
“Combined with an actual visit to a fish farm, a simulator like this will make it possible to experience a breeding cycle that usually takes 14-22 months in about 45 minutes.
"This is unique, and will give visitors a completely different view of our work than just a visit to a farm would.”
The simulator is just the beginning, the researchers say.
“This program is intended as a tool to promote the Norwegian fish farming industry. We imagine that this simulator, which call the ‘mini-simulator’ will help with recruiting and building expertise, and make the audience curious enough to want to know more about this fantastic industry that we are a part of,” Ms Seternes said.
“The reaction from the kids is unequivocal— getting farming presented like a game is exciting, and we see other uses for technology like this in the future.”