A Trent student – who is making a name for himself as a “Digital Indiana Jones” – credits his academic supervisor’s guidance and support as key to the development of an innovative database platform that digitizes archaeological sites via emerging virtual reality technology.
AVROD (Archaeological Virtual Reality Online Database), created and developed by Archaeology Masters student Jeremy Brooks, provides archaeologists, professors and students with the ability to explore archaeological sites as if they were there in person.
“It breaks through the data barrier of studying archaeological sites from only academic journals and allows users to experimentally learn about a site through every step of the excavation,” explains Mr. Brooks, a Brampton native who began his Master’s program at Trent in September 2016.
The Path to VR
“I began writing my thesis on the prehistoric archaeology of Southwest Asia, focusing on prehistoric methods of food storage, before switching to the applications of virtual reality for archaeology out of my growing interest in innovative VR technologies. Soon after I came in contact with the Innovation Cluster with my VR business idea for archaeology and have been working with it ever since to develop my company and VR platform.”
It’s a path that has worked out very well for Mr. Brooks, who, on November 22, won the $10,000 grand prize at the 2018 Cubs’ Lair competition hosted by FastStart Peterborough, the Innovation Cluster and the Trent Youth Entrepreneurship Society. AVROD was one of five business ideas pitched to the judging panel.
To date, Mr. Brooks has developed two archaeological sites into virtual reality experiences, allowing users to fully interact with each site without incurring the cost of traveling to those sites.
“We are now developing AVROD to create virtual seminars for anthropology students in the Visualization Space and Creativity Lab at the Bata Library to help them learn excavation procedures through the 19th century milling site Nassau Mills located on Trent's campus,” says Mr. Brooks, who showcased AVROD’s capabilities and applications at the library’s recent open house.
“We received a lot of positive feedback and are very excited to see what relationships we can establish at Trent to better focus our technologies towards Canadian students, beginning here in Ontario. My thesis supervisor, Dr. James Conolly, was the first to urge me to focus my thesis on the Applications of Virtual Reality for Archaeology. I owe all of my success in both my academic and business careers thus far to him.”