Warwick’s new ultra high-tech facility, the Digital Laboratory, was officially opened by Prime Minister Gordon Brown at a ceremony on Friday 25 July using ‘virtual scissors’ to cut a ribbon in cyberspace.
The £13 million lab, the brainchild of Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, Director of Warwick Manufacturing Group, has been two years in construction and top international academics are now moving into the building.
Lord Bhattacharyya said: “This Digital Lab is the future. We are bringing together some of the world’s top academics in digital technologies working on digital manufacturing and digital healthcare.
“We are working with partners on product development and creating virtual reality environments for prototyping and testing human responses. E-security, cradle-to-grave product management and process improvement will also be key themes.”
As he opened the building, Mr Brown experienced a demonstration of two key technologies. Professor Vinesh Raja (Informatics) and Professor Alan Chalmers (Visualisation) and their teams had worked together to create a virtual reality ribbon tied around the building which Mr Brown ‘cut’ using computer-generated scissors that simulate the feeling of cutting through real ribbon.
Professor Raja said: “This is a great way to demonstrate these two technologies. Professor Chalmers’ team has created the 3-D image of the building and my team has created the ribbon with the sensation of touch. The two together create something really incredible.
“We have done this because one of the projects we are working on is to create lifelike simulated training for surgeons so that they can experience what it feels like to cut through live human tissue without having to use live patients. It will both look and feel like operating on a real person but they can do it time and time again and even measure their performance against the recorded techniques of top surgeons.”
The Prime Minister was at the University from Friday 25 to Sunday 27 July at the Labour party’s National Policy Forum (NPF) which was hosted this year by Warwick.
He opened the NPF by delivering a key note speech to party members, trade unions, socialist societies, Labour representatives and the wider community. After which the weekend was devoted to deciding on the party’s next manifesto. Read more...
Gordon Brown last visited the University in May 2007 when he unveiled the foundation stone for the Digi Lab.