The Big Data VR Challenge, organised by Epic Games and the Wellcome Trust, seeks to harness the skills of the games industry and emerging VR community to find new ways to manipulate and interrogate huge data sets generated by modern science studies.
Epic and Wellcome have brought together an international line-up of VR developers and visualisation specialists to address three prominent research initiatives: Cambridge University’s Casebooks Project, the University of Bristol’s ALSPAC Children of the 90s study, and the Sanger Institute’s Genome Browser.
A prize of $20,000 will be awarded to the best concept which will be demonstrated, judged and announced at the Develop: Brighton conference in July.
The Casebooks Project is creating a digital edition of one of the largest surviving sets of medical records in history – 80,000 consultations recorded by Simon Forman and Richard Napier, two sixteenth and seventeenth century physician-astrologers. Teams in this challenge are Skip the Intro from The Netherlands and Soluis of Scotland.
ALSPAC Children of the 90s is a world-leading birth cohort study that recruited more than 14,000 pregnant women between April 1991 and December 1992. The children arising from those pregnancies, and their partners, have been followed up intensively over two decades, resulting in huge amount of data captured. The bright minds of England’s LumaPie and Australia’s Opaque Multimedia are taking on this study.
The Genome Browser at the Sanger Institute, Cambridge, is one of the widely used genome browsers amongst researchers; yet interpreting the displayed data remains challenging. It is hoped that new opportunities will emerge for genome scientists by taking advantage of VR technology provided by Canadian duo Pi and Power and British studio Hammerhead VR.
“The games industry has a unique ability to manage, manipulate and effectively present huge amounts of data, and that skill could potentially unlock a massive road block that has been confounding the science community for some time,” said Epic Games European territory manager Mike Gamble.
“This Challenge, although relatively humble at this stage, could produce the tools required to grapple with the digital mountains of data that currently reside around the world today.”