The BRIDGES project focuses on the practical and very useful applications of Virtual Reality and Extended Reality technologies it's implemented under the coordination of the Maggioli Group and has a strong Greek participation.
The project, which started in October 2020 and will last two years, involves nine partners from four countries with more than 25 researchers with the important goal to “bridge” the gap that still exists today between interactive technologies and their practical applications in the industry, as well as in the fields of education and cultural experiences.
In the first of the three goals of the project, the operation of the XR platform at the Berlin airport, Brandenburg - BER, has already begun, in collaboration with the partner Illusion Walk and the Airport Fire Department, aiming at the safest, fastest, economically viable and complete training of firefighters. The Immersive Deck system (which will soon be also implemented at the Athens airport, in collaboration with the Hellenic Fire Brigade and Maggioli, as part of a pilot test), has been successfully installed in the vehicle room of the Western Wing Fire station. Firefighters have begun their virtual training in firefighting inside a (virtual) aircraft, with full equipment and a high level of realism that includes (with the help of appropriate mechanisms) the sense of warmth and smell of fire.
Nikos Achilleopoulos, coordinator of BRIDGES project and executive of the R&D department of Maggioli, which is based in Athens, emphasizes that -apart from the substantial utilization of XR technology- for the needs of the project, a small, self-driving and easy-to-use robot was also created. Its mission is the 3D-mapping of the aircraft’s cabin and spaces in general, in order to facilitate the creation of virtual environments with the fast and reliable representation of natural spaces.
The third application of the system concerns a cultural scenario, which will be implemented in collaboration with the Foundation of the Hellenic World. A special environment will be created In its facilities, on Piraeus Street in Athens, which will allow the users of the XR platform to "live" in a house of Ancient Athens, moving around and interacting with the virtual objects inside.
According to Mr. Achilleopoulos, BRIDGES manages to combine the physical with the virtual world in an augmented reality environment, offering multi-user interaction and multi-sensory experience, while also proving how useful, effective and affordable XR technologies are in terms of education and culture, by creating "immersion" environments.
The project is co-financed under the European program HORIZON 2020, and among its partners are the Technical University of Vienna and Athens University, the companies Illusion Walk and Bolt Virtual and Fondazione Toscana, while the end-users are the two airports and the FHW.