Next year, the Fort York National Historic Site in Toronto will launch to the public a new Virtual Reality Experience, allowing visitors to experience the site in a totally new way! Our friends at AWE, who have been working hard to bring this experience to life, invited the Toronto ACM SIGGRAPH community to evaluate this experience during a free preview held between Sept. 21st and Oct. 3oth. Naturally, the Chapter leaders were delighted to participate!
On a gloomy and cold Oct. 24th, we gathered at the Fork York Visitor Center, where we were warmly greeted by Fort York staff member Ewan Wardle, who guided us through the experience. Ewan provided an introduction to the VR experience and handed us the equipment, and then we followed him onto the Fort York grounds. There, we immersed ourselves into the virtual Fort York.
The experience consists of a set of animated, VR vignettes at different locations on the site grounds. To guide you from one vignette location to another, a virtual map, visible through the VR headset, indicates the locations where vignettes are available. When you arrive at a location, a short music clip will play through the stereo headset to let you know the system is ready to play. The content of the vignettes is quite varied too. You may relive the founding of the city of Toronto or the sacking of the Fort during the War of 1812, or you may witness a meeting between the British and native people, or see what the grounds looked like before the city filled up with condo buildings.
It was a fun and enjoyable experience and we are excited to see the final product when it opens again to the public next year. Congratulations to Srinivas Krishna of AWE and all the other individuals and institutions that have worked hard to bring this experience to life!