Space East demonstrates power of virtual reality at Suffolk Show

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Space East — the cluster hosted by New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership — was delighted to support the BT and Adastral Park marquee at the Suffolk Show 2023.

This year’s theme of ‘Space’ presented an ideal opportunity to provide knowledge and insights into how space tech touches all of our lives and inspire people of all ages to find out more.

The marquee was filled with exciting technologies, including a robot wars ring bringing the TV programme to life and giving visitors the chance to experience the thrill of a robot battle. There was also the opportunity to take control of a drone, navigating through an aerial obstacle course against the backdrop of a thermal imaging screen.

Creative challenges for the youngsters ranged from programming to colouring in and making the best paper aeroplanes. Visual imaging tech allowed the public to experience a 3D hologram booth and a fan that displayed images as it spun around, creating exciting moving images of space.

UK business Mvine showcased how its technology uses satellite data to support understanding and management of crisis scenarios, and immersive reality technology gave users a remote experience of walking around Adastral Park itself.

Space East was delighted to be able to use Occulus technology, provided by BT, to showcase the satellite demonstrator software created by the Satellite Applications Catapult. This virtual reality kit put our visitors up into space, floating around and exploring what satellites look like and how they operate.

Visitors could use the handsets to manipulate the satellites and explore them from every angle. By clicking on their lasers, they could open up information videos that explained how they were powered by solar panels, used thrusters to position the satellite and communications technology to transmit data back down to earth. Further information explored how we use this data from agriculture, through forestry to data modelling activities.

Judges from the Suffolk Agricultural Association awarded BT first prize for Best Stand in the Show and Best Stand Representing Education.

Stuart Catchpole, Space Cluster Development Manager, said: “It’s been an amazing couple of days. This is such exciting technology and really brings to life what satellite technology is and how it supports us in our everyday life, often without us even thinking about it!

“We’ve had visitors from four years old to past retirement age use this virtual reality equipment and it’s been amazing to see their responses. It really is an immersive experience and we’ve got people thinking about space and technology, I hope we’ve managed to inspire some young people to look closely at this sector as an exciting career pathway.”

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