Diving Deep into Virtual Worlds
13 Dec 2021

The lines between the real and virtual worlds blurred at the latest Young Defence Scientists Programme (YDSP) Science & Technology Camp, where close to 90 students dived into the worlds of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)!

At the camp, held from 29 November to 3 December 2021, students travelled back in time to learn more about histories of VR and AR technologies and how they have evolved over the years, their applications across diverse industries, and how they have been leveraged to enhance training in the military domain. The students were also made privy to the flipside of VR and AR, where they heard about their potential for misuse and learnt useful skills to see through deepfake technology – a related field which uses deep learning to produce a fake, digitally altered video or audio file.

Students tuned in virtually to learn about VR and AR and their applications in defence science.

As part of the camp, the students were able to pick the brains of Associate Professor Cai Yiyu, Deputy Director of the Centre of Virtual and Augmented Reality in Nanyang Technological University, who introduced them to the virtual-physical reality spectrum and the relationship between VR and its roots in defence science.

No YDSP Science & Technology Camp would be complete without hands-on activities, and this time was no different. The students put theory into practice through guided workshops, and busied themselves with building their own VR environments and AR Instagram filters. They also learnt the end-to-end design process of making such applications, from storyboarding to creating in-game objects and user-friendly interfaces, to name a few.

211213_YDSP Science and Technology Camp_02 211213_YDSP Science and Technology Camp_03
Participants gained hands-on experience in crafting their own Instagram filters and building virtual environments.

The week’s activities then culminated in an exciting hackathon where participants were challenged to engineer their own VR and AR application ideas for defence science and technology, ranging from enhancing soldier training to imparting Total Defence knowledge.

For one team, this meant simulating multiple environments to make military training more efficient and engaging while prioritising the soldiers’ safety. The team pitched a real-time strategy wargame, with a ‘command and conquer’ concept reminiscent of integrated battle systems. In the game, commanders can issue commands by interacting with the virtual map, and the soldiers on the ground can likewise send the enemies’ locations back to the commanders and receive commands in response.

211213_YDSP Science and Technology Camp_04
A group of students simulated a real-time strategy wargame where teams could compete.

Another team decided to use VR to educate the public in basic medical knowledge and what to do in the event of terrorism attacks or contingency operations.

211213_YDSP Science and Technology Camp_05
Other students created a step-by-step walkthrough of basic first-aid knowledge simulated with VR.

With the camp concluded, National Junior College student Megan Wong said: “Thank you DSTA for hosting this camp, and also thanks to our instructors for guiding us all the way! I enjoyed working with people from other schools, and learning about the various platforms which we could use to develop our virtual solutions.”

Huang Xiaotian from Hwa Chong Institution was just as grateful for the learning opportunities, which has taught him a lot about Singapore’s defence science. He added: “I also learnt about the creative application of my programming by developing these virtual spaces!”

The YDSP Science & Technology Camp is a week-long camp that allows students to learn and explore all about engineering and infocomm technology through eye-opening lectures and hands-on workshops, and challenge their newfound knowledge in exciting competitions. To attend the camp, seek your teacher’s help on your application or email ydsp@dsta.gov.sg!