Open Virtual Worlds Lab

About the lab

Welcome to the Open Virtual World's (OVW) lab space here on Research Gate.

The OVW is committed to the effective use of technology in the preservation and promotion of heritage.

We do aerial photography, 3D models, Virtual Museums and Virtual Time Travel.

Featured projects (1)

Principal Investigator Chilean Team: Karin Weil The EU-LAC-MUSEUMS project directly meets the challenge of fostering EU-CELAC relations by studying the close connections between Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) in the field of community museology. To address this challenge, EU-LAC-MUSEUMS assembles a team of leading academics, museum professionals and policy makers elected by the European and LAC Regional Alliances of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) ( Together, we are committed to exploring the cultural, scientific and social dimensions of EU-LAC relations with a view to “supporting the process of EU-CELAC cooperation outlined by the EU-CELAC Action Plan 2013-2015 in defining a common vision for the years to come”. Through a series of thematic work packages we will pursue the theme of “Museums and Community: Concepts, Experiences, and sustainability in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean”. A good deal of research has been carried out into this subject at local, national, and regional levels in both EU and LAC, but a concerted bi-regional investigation is yet to appear. EU-LAC-MUSEUMS will overcome this gap in knowledge by creating parity of esteem and sustainable dialogue and co-operation between academia, museums and communities in each region. It will achieve this goal by pursuing work packages dealing with the cross cutting societal challenges of: a) "Technology and Innovation for Bi-Regional Integration"; b) "Museum Education for Social Inclusion and Cohesion"; c) "Investment and Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Museums”, and d) “Exhibiting Migration and Gender”. In so doing, we will push forward the agenda of the EU-CELAC Action Plan in museum practice and theory.

Featured research (46)

This paper introduces the Laconia Acropolis Virtual Archaeology (LAVA) project, a cooperative exploratory learning environment that addresses the need for students to engage with archaeological excavation scenarios. By leveraging the immersive nature of game technologies and 3D MultiUser Virtual Environments (MUVEs), LAVA facilitates the adoption of exploratory learning practices in environments which have previously been inaccessible due to barriers of space, time or cost (Collis 2001; Aitchison 2004; Colley 2004). In this paper we present our experiences and reflections during the development of a virtual excavation based on a Byzantine basilica excavated by the British School of Athens during 2000-1 (Sweetman 2000-2001; Sweetman and Katsara 2002). We consider the benefits of allowing students to collaboratively manage and participate in a virtual excavation of the basilica and highlight how real-world findings can be used to provide an authentic virtual excavation experience. An infrastructure that supports a group-based exploratory approach is presented, which integrates 3D technologies into an existing learning management system to enable location-independent, self-paced access. 166 Exploring the Second Life of a Byzantine Basilica
Developments in digital infrastructures and expanding digital literacies lower barriers for museums and visitor centres to provide new interactive experiences with their collections and heritage. With virtual reality more accessible, heritage institutions are eager to find out how this technology can create new methods in interpretation, learning and visualisation. This paper reviews a virtual reality framework implemented into exhibits in three cultural heritage centres. By taking advantage of existing visitor digital literacies, the exhibits provided accessible immersive exploratory experiences for inter-generational audiences. The digital framework developed is a template for virtual reality content interaction that is both intuitive and powerful. The exhibits include digital reconstructions of physical scenes using game engines for a convincing visual experience. We contextualise the logic behind a virtual reality setup for the separate institutions, how they assisted with the narrative as well as if an immersive digital environment provided a more profound response in users. Our aim is to communicate approaches, methodologies and content used to overcome the challenge of presenting a period in history to a modern audience, while using emergent technology to build connections and disseminate knowledge that is memorable and profound.
This paper discusses how a digital reconstruction of the Scottish capital of Edinburgh around the year 1544 was created and communicated to the public. It explores the development and reception of the Virtual Time Binoculars platform – a system for delivering virtual reality heritage apps suitable for use on most smartphones. The Virtual Time Binoculars system is placed in the context of earlier research into mobile heritage experiences, including Situated Simulations (Liestøl [3]) and the Mirrorshades Project (Davies et al. [4]). The eventual virtual reality app is compared with other means of viewing the historic reconstruction, including online videos and an interactive museum and educational exhibit. It outlines the historical and technical challenges of modelling Edinburgh’s sixteenth-century cityscape, and of distributing the eventual reconstruction in an immersive fashion that works safely and effectively on smartphones on the streets of the modern city. Finally, it considers the implications of this project for future developments in mobile exploration of historic scenes.
Museums publicly display collections in a physical space to relay narratives and concepts to their audiences. Progressive technologies in an exhibition can bring in varying demographics and gather higher footfall for a museum as well as present digital heritage interpretation in an innovative manner. A mixed media exhibition can facilitate subjects with limited physical resources or difficult to display pieces as well as the visual landscape the objects were found within. A combination of Virtual Reality headsets, 3D digitized objects, digitally reconstructed archaeological sites alongside traditional object displays as methods of interpretation substantiate research in techniques and usability as well as challenges of recoup cost and digital literacies. This paper investigates the methodology, technology and evaluation of the mixed media exhibition Picts & Pixels presented by Culture Perth and Kinross and the Open Virtual Worlds research team at the University of St Andrews at the Perth Museum and Art Gallery in summer 2017.

Lab head

Alan Henry David Miller
  • School of Computer Science
About Alan Henry David Miller
  • Alan Henry David Miller currently works at the School of Computer Science, University of St Andrews. Alan does research in Educational Technology, Higher Education and Adult Education. Their current project is 'Virtual World Education'.

Members (11)

Colin Allison
  • University of St Andrews
Ishbel Duncan
  • University of St Andrews
Iain Oliver
  • University of St Andrews
Ittipong Khemapech
  • University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce
Adeola Fabola
  • University of St Andrews
Karin Weil
  • Universidad Austral de Chile
Elizabeth Rhodes
  • University of St Andrews
Catherine Anne Cassidy
  • University of St Andrews
Christopher John Davies
Christopher John Davies
  • Not confirmed yet

Alumni (2)

John Mccaffery
  • University of St Andrews
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