If you’ve ever visited or seen pictures of London, England you’ll know it is one of the most epic places on earth. From the dramatic architecture of Big Ben and Parliament to castles and palaces, to the endless other sites to visit and things to do, it can be hard to imagine it as it was in the past. Florida students were so committed to finding a way to bring the past back to life that they created a virtual version of that past, specifically Shakespeare’s London. 

The Florida International University in Miami built a mixed reality center called I-CAVE, the Integrated Computer Augmented Virtual Environment. The center will serve as a research station for 3D modeling and will strive to create educational tools that both engage and assist in the learning process for students of all ages. Their first experiment? Bringing the Globe Theatre as it was in 1598 to the virtual world.

How It Works

To begin, architecture students modeled the environment based on historical data such as drawings, written documents, and archaeological data of not only the theatre itself but of the whole area’s landscape. This gives the experience a more lifelike effect while giving viewers a fuller picture of life and conditions several centuries ago as compared to the present cityscape. To complete the project, actors from the theatre program added their voices to the project to create a more realistic experience for anyone involved. 

Visitors to the I-CAVE will experience something quite unique. Giant, high-resolution screens don the walls and every person is equipped with a headset. A main explorer’s headset features motion sensors which allows other viewers to tag along even if they aren’t wearing a headset with motion sensors. 

The experience isn’t what you’d expect from a trip to the theatre either. Centuries ago, going to see a play was not the cultured, high-brow experience you’d imagine today. They were rowdy, people would throw objects at the performers, talking or yelling during the performance was common, and fights were known to break out. 

I-CAVE takes the experience a step further and allows you to interact with different characters that would have been in attendance. Whether you want to talk to the locals, explore the interior of the theatre and enjoy a play, or simply take in the 16th century landscape outside, it’s all possible now thanks to mixed reality. 

In the future, the students hope to entertain and educate as many people as possible about the history of the area, Shakespeare, and so much more. The applications for this type of project could enhance educational systems like almost nothing has before. Mixed reality is certainly making great strides towards a brighter future for every possible application of the technology and beyond.