Exxaro, University of Pretoria Join Forces for Extended Reality Research

Exxaro, University of Pretoria Join Forces for Extended Reality Research

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Coal and heavy minerals mining company Exxaro Resources is collaborating with the University of Pretoria to set up the Exxaro Chair in Extended Reality (XR) Technology.

Through the partnership, the Exxaro Chair in XR Technology will offer a framework for deploying XR technology to mitigate challenges faced by the mining industry and match the best technologies with various applications within the industry. Exxaro’s investment will facilitate consistent research for creating a safer, economic, and more environmentally sensitive landscape for mining.

The Virtual Reality and Interaction (VRI) Lab, an initiative of the Department of Information Science at the University of Pretoria, and the Department of Mining Engineering will work on the project with Exxaro. The VRI lab specializes in using XR technologies to develop interactive user experiences for various applications.

The program will aid in picking the most effective XR technologies and design environments to allow for intuitive interactions within the virtual space. Several standalone and shared VR applications, including mobile, tethered, and cave setup VR, communication VR, hand tracking, and full-body tracking, can be explored within the space.

Exxaro CEO Mxolisi Mgojo said, “Together, we are expanding upon the practical capabilities of XR in the South African context while supporting our need for the industry to embrace the opportunities of the 4th Industrial Revolution. The possibilities of what we could develop are really exciting.”

Professor Ina Fourie, Head of the Department of Information Science and the inaugural Exxaro Chair in XR Technology, stated the partnership would open up countless new doors for the University to progress in the XR research domain.

“They offer us an opportunity to become international leaders in the use of XR technology in the mining industry and mining safety. Many other applications and opportunities can follow,” she said.

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