The 3D Landscape

We invited Inition, a company specialising in 3D and Augmented Reality, to write an article for us about the various aspects of 3D technology.

3D and the Education Market

oakingtonRecent changes in the 3D technology landscape are transforming the way we visualise and interact with 3D data and the real world. 3D applications and technologies have reached a level of maturity that are starting to add a real value to the education sector.  Inition brings over 10 years experience of integrating 3D technologies alongside expert consulting and training services.  Here we outline a few of their examples, from 3D displays through to scanning, 3D printing, motion capture and haptic interfaces.

3D Projection and Display Technology

MATTU, the internationally recognised centre of excellence for teaching innovative laparoscopic surgical techniques, are using 3D camera and transmission technology from Inition to beam live broadcasts of surgical procedures from Royal Surrey County Hospital Theatres to surgeons in remote viewing locations.  3D displays enable surgeons to immerse themselves in the operation just as the surgeon would see it, and give feedback to the students throughout the procedure.

Other examples include Petrie Museum, who have taken the technology on the road, using 3D techniques to transplant a database of 3D scanned artifacts from their current location on the University College London campus to the British Library, allowing students to explore the items using stereoscopic 3D projection.  Westminster School found ways to bring science teaching to life within the classroom, using portable projection systems linked through to educational content.

Kathy Hall of Inition demonstrates 3D projection technology. The sound quality isn't wonderful, but you can what's going on.

Motion Capture

Motion Capture is another technology fast being embraced by the education sector.  Following on from live stereo broadcast, MATTUsourced cutting-edge motion tracking technology to record the exact movements of the surgeon, improving training simulation and increasing accuracy, safety and performance.

3D Scanning and Printing

Scanners and Printers are both rapidly maturing technologies.  The 3D scanning and printing team has worked with a range of higher education establishments, helping Earth Scientists at Durham University to produce 3D geologic formations and detailed models of surface ruptures related to the earthquake devastation. The results of the project are hoped to help improve the understanding of quakes, their timing and likely magnitude.  Glasgow Dental Hospital are using a 3D scanning and printing workflow for their research into craniofacial imaging and training.


Haptic devices allow a person to feel computer generated virtual objects and are at the cutting edge of 3D technology.  Most of the demand for haptics devices and services in higher education has been generated by the medical, dental and surgical departments where there are an increasing number of practical applications.

hapTEL, a collaboration between Kings College and Reading University, deployed haptic technology for a system which allows dozens of trainee dentists at a time to learn their trade on virtual teeth, presenting an effective and repeatable experience along with cost saving benefits.

Other examples of haptics in education can be found at Reach Out Lab set up by Imperial College London, this is for school children from age 6 – 18 to engage in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) projects through experimental work.

Haptic devices were supplied for a week long summer course where the students were given the task to work in pairs to produce a mini-game, this involved students programming the devices using C++ or Java.

Dr Fernando Bello, Senior Lecturer in Surgical Graphics and Computing at Imperial College London said of the week that “It seemed to go very well and we were certainly impressed with student performance.”

The Future

The education sector is forever adopting new technologies and becoming increasingly IT savvy. 3D technology and services have a vast array of practical applications in the classroom and higher education research programmes and we are already seeing an increased demand for 3D technology across the market.

The latest Europe-wide research supports this with claims that 3D in the classroom has improved test results by an average of 17%. The research found that 3D-enabled learning tools helped children concentrate more, so we expect to see a greater uptake in 3D projectors and learning resources off the back of these important findings.

About Inition

Inition is a pioneering creative 3D technology and production company. We provide independent advice on a broad range of 3D technologies, along with systems integration, bespoke software development, consultancy and training.  We have relationships with a wide range of higher education establishments in the UK and abroad and often form partnerships supporting research and development on a contractual basis.

Further Reading & References:

Imperial’s Reach Out Lab:
The Petrie Museum's project:
MATTU’s Live 3D Surgery:
Research backing 3D in Education:

This article recently appeared in Computers in Classrooms, the free e-newsletter for those with a professional interest in educational IT.