How virtual reality headsets are being developed to train meteorologists

How virtual reality headsets are being developed to train meteorologists

STEMM NEWS

The Informatics Lab has been working alongside the Met Office College to deliver a virtual-reality (VR) prototype application that it is hoped can further enrich and inform the students of the College’s courses. The Met Office College delivers bespoke training courses and programmes to people from around the world for anything weather and climate related, including the 'Aeronautical Meteorological Observing Course’. This course is delivered numerous times a year predominantly to customers from UK civil and military airports and airfields, but also to the Met Office’s own trainee meteorologists. There is a large practical element to the course: trainees must be able to recognise different cloud types, amounts of sky coverage and cloud base height, along with weather types and intensities, and associated visibilities. When delivering this type of recognition training, the College is at the mercy of the weather and often during a course there is limited variation in the sky conditions which limits the learners’ exposure to different conditions. 

Tom Powell, a technologist at the Informatics Lab, who is seeking to solve the challenge set said: “Using low-cost VR headsets (e.g. Google Cardboard) we will be able to immerse the students in various weather scenarios chosen at will from an online catalogue, all delivered on-site in the classroom. Further to this we have been experimenting with curating these experiences so we can further guide users to look where we want, and when we want, them to. The project is still very much in its infancy but we are already convinced that by using VR we can give the learner a more complete and immersive learning experience.”

www.informaticslab.co.uk

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