Epic’s Big Data VR Challenge Winner Will Take Home $20,000 Next Week at Develop: Brighton Conference

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Epic Games’ Big Data VR Challenge has been underway since March and is coming to a close next week. With luck, the teams have created some entirely new ways of visualizing complex data sets in a VR space so that their hidden meanings can be easier understood.

The Big Data VR Challenge, a joint effort by Epic Games and Wellcome Trust, was devised to find unique ways of sifting through large amounts of data in VR so that connections, trends and solutions can be revealed and visualized. And when they talk about ‘big data’, they mean decade-long studies with a staggering number of data points.

The challenge will come to a close at Develop: Brighton, a three day conference of networking and speaker sessions, where one out of the six teams will be announced as the winner and awarded a grand prize of $20,000. Develop: Brighton takes place July 14-16, in Brighton, England.

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According to Epic, “the Challenge seeks to harness the skills of the games industry and the emerging VR community to find new ways to manipulate and interrogate huge data sets that are now generated by many science studies.” The teams will have to address skills like intuitive UI development, management, and manipulation of large data sets and the creation of immersive, inherently understandable worlds and how they can be usefully applied to the scientific community.

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Six teams from across the globe are tasked with one of three studies, namely Cambridge University’s Casebooks Project, the University of Bristol’s ALSPAC Children of the 90s study, and the SangerInstitute’s Genome Browser.

Masters of Pie, a London based studio that also produced the engaging Geppetto VR animation prototype, have built an interesting UI that works with the Razer Hydra motion input controller. The project addresses the ‘Children of the 90s’ study. Other teams include Pi and Power, Soluis, Opaque Multimedia, Hammerhead VR, and Skip the Intro.

co90s-logo-rgbSo that you get the idea of how massive these projects really are, ‘Children of the 90s’ has been recording the health of 14,500 pre-selected families in the Bristol area since the early 1990s—all in the hopes that future generations can benefit for the knowledge gained. “The challenge that we’re setting to the teams here is how to help us portray those data in a way which can very efficiently be explored by potential users,” said Prof. Paul Burton of the University of Bristol.

All VR projects are built in Unreal Engine 4, the now free game engine produced by Epic, and teams will present their projects at Epic’s stand in the Develop Networking Lounge on Wednesday, July 15, with the judging and awarding of the cash prize taking place at 3:45 p.m. For event-goers, the teams will also be there with their VR projects on Thursday, July 16.

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