Over the past few weeks, we've had the great pleasure of hosting Rafael Upcroft, a PhD candidate at the UTAS School of Architecture. Rafael's research is exploring whether cycling paths can be made more fun (and efficient) by creating undulations in the ground plane (rather than the usual plain, flat, straight cycling paths that are generally built). This technique is used in pump tracks, which are a kind of cycling track that enable riders to build up speed without pedaling.
Here's a bit of background in Rafael's own words.
To test his theory that bike paths can be made more fun by making them more like pump tracks, Rafael is going to use virtual reality to experiment with different track designs and measure how cyclists respond to each iteration.
When Rafael described his project to us, we were reminded of Globacore's VR homage to Paper Boy, "Paper Dude VR". To say we were keen to follow along with Rafael's research and help out where we could is a bit of an understatement.
Also, Rafael was looking for a bit of help with understanding the Oculus Rift and getting the best possible result out of the VR application he would need to build to support his research. So, we did what any self-respecting hackerspace would do in this circumstance and invited Rafael to work from the Innovation Circle whenever he likes -- particularly when he's working on the more tech-focused components of his PhD research.
From that point on, we've had the great pleasure of having Rafael working from the Battery Shed regularly and we're looking forward to collaborating with him over the next three years and helping to support his PhD research.
If you'd like to learn more about Rafael's PhD, he's posted a short introduction to the concept on a Cycle Space, a blog about cycling, architecture and urban design.