In the spring of 2019, we designed, built, and implemented a virtual reality system of the inside of a coal mine circa 1950 for the
Canmore Museum, entitled "Inside the Mine, a virtual reality experience".
The mines in Canmore had been closed 40 years previously and all of the old tunnels - though there are many, many kilometres of them - were all collapsed, flooded, or too unstable for tours. Thus, it was felt to be a perfect project for Virtual Reality.
Eight other studios across North America bid on the contract. Otago Computing was successful because we:
Once the contract was won, we cleared the decks to deliver a full VR system in just three months!
Several concepts were tried, with each an improvement on the previous, as we built toward these criteria:
Here are some diagrams and early renders to show the progression:
Since we guarantee our work (not happy, we work within the budget until you are or you don't pay) we really need top be sure that we are always on track. We do this by building out the solution in stages that are signed-off with clear dated and described milestones.
Here are some clips of the mine as it moved through the development process and was improved after the museum's steering committee approved the next stage:
We also collaborated with the retired local miners to gather their guidance, and to provide some narrative and exposition to explain what people were experiencing in the mine. Here's a few nuggets:
The museum director (at the time of the project) - Jason Gariepy - stated: "the VR feedback has been overwhelmingly positive."
Gerry Stephenson, the former manager of the mine operations, exclaimed: "I felt I was in the Wilson seam of No.4 Mine, once again after 40 years!".
To date, the VR solution has been running without a single issue related to the software build.
If you want to experience the full power of this VR project, drop by the Canmore Museum and Geo-science Centre and take a look!