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Indian Institute of Madras Launches Virtual Reality Course

The Indian Institute of Technology in Madras (IIT-Madras) recently announced it would launch an advanced diploma programme in virtual reality in association with a Japanese research firm offering niche courses in media and emerging technologies. The course is being coordinated by IIT Madras’s Centre of Excellence on Virtual Reality and Haptics, set up under the government’s Institute of Eminence initiative. The key objective is to serve the increased needs of professionals skilled in virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality (XR), and haptics technology.

The course will be offered in both online and offline modes and is open for anyone with an engineering background including students currently enrolled in engineering degrees anywhere in the country, a statement noted. Working professionals who are aspiring to upskill in immersive technologies are also eligible. Applications will be made available from November and the first batch shall commence from January 2022. The course will have an annual intake of 50 students. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) on this collaborative initiative was signed between IIT-Madras and a leading Japanese media communication technology company.

As per a news report, an expert from IIT-Madras stated that virtual reality is inherently a practical and interdisciplinary course. Offering experiential and interdisciplinary courses online is quite challenging. Both IIT-Madras and the partner firm have taken this as an opportunity to offer a course like this for the first time in India. Virtual reality is a powerful technology in which the human senses are artificially stimulated. Using computer programmes, this technology allows a user to interact with a computer-simulated environment to experience, feel, and touch the images of the past, present, and future. Graduates of this course will have potential job opportunities in sectors ranging from IT, animation, architecture, and engineering to healthcare and media production.

Experiential and immersive technology is rapidly developing and transforming key industries from architecture and engineering to healthcare and media production. Various studies and research papers on immersive technology suggest that it has the potential to boost the global economy by US$1.5 trillion by adding 23 million jobs globally, including new jobs that do not exist now, or by enhancing the existing jobs by 2030. This economic growth is under threat due to the lack of availability of skilled resources for employers across the globe.

In August, IIT-Madras inaugurated the country’s first consortium for Virtual Reality called ‘Consortium for VR/AR/MR Engineering Mission in India’ (CAVE). The consortium comprises a group of academic institutions, industries, start-ups, and government bodies. It will enable members to create new advanced technologies and applications in virtual reality, augmented reality, XR, and haptics technology.

According to a news report, the consortium will promote best practices and create a dialogue with stakeholders, government policymakers, and research institutions. It aims to become a resource for industry, academia, consumers, and policymakers interested in virtual, augmented, and mixed reality. The key outcomes envisaged from CAVE include developing indigenous VR/AR/MR and haptics hardware and software and setting up a ‘VR Superhighway’ or ‘VR Corridor’ where many start-ups and industries and work together for a bigger mission to make India a global hub for XR and haptics needs.

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