Description of work
Τ4.1 – Architecture and interface design (CERTH, UoM) [M3-M5]
Relying on the functional requirements gathered in T1.3, define the architecture of the “Virtual labs authoring tool” that will be capable of integrating the functionalities developed in WP2 and WP3 into a web interface component able to communicate with a game engine remotely in order to produce a lab. As regards the integration with WP2 and WP3, the adopted architecture should make provision for effectively injecting the necessary metrics in the virtual lab project to assess the user behavior during the experience of the virtual lab. The selection of the basic technologies (e.g. the utilized 3D engine such as Unity , Unreal , Torgue3D  or Godot engines ) will be made in the context of T4.1. Another responsibility of this task is to analyze the functional requirements provided by WP1 (T1.3) in order to deliver an accurate interface design of the authoring tool suitable for the virtual labs. Mockups will be used to simulate the workflow between the supported functionalities and also act as a running exercise between the interface designers and the author-users in defining the look and feel of the authoring tool.
T4.2 – Implementation of the virtual labs authoring tool with generalizable templates (CERTH, UoM) [M4-M18]
The “Virtual labs authoring tool” that will be implemented will allow teachers to design experiments with an easy to manipulate graphic user interface. The teachers will be able with drag-n-drop functionalities to design the experiment in 3D space and allow the user to interact as an avatar with the virtual items. The purpose of this task is the core of the project, namely, implement an authoring tool in a web browser (web page) that it is able to generate virtual lab projects in a certain game engine format, e.g. Unity3D format. These projects could be compiled for each platform that the game engine (Unity3D) supports, i.e. desktop, mobile, console, and web. The compiling of the project will be done remotely in a server which has the game engine installed. Summarizing, the pipeline of the authoring tool consists of the following components that will be developed independently: a) web interface (the Editor), b) Unity3D game format saving mechanism (the Translator), c) compiling request mechanism (the Uploader), d) compiling server machine setup (the Game-Engine-Server), and e) the transfer of the result to the author (the Downloader). The goal of this task is also to offer the appropriate templates that will be used to design virtual labs for different use cases according to the specification of the scenarios in T1.1. These templates will have the necessary metrics measurement mechanisms embedded that will monitor users’ behavior and will communicate this metrics to the game and visual analytics components as defined in WP2 and WP3.
T4.3 – Technology assembly, integration and validation for the implementation of the authoring tool (CERTH, All) [M8-M18]
The goal of this task is the technical verification of the products of the project with respect to their expected functionality before reaching the prototype level. This task will define a group of internal beta-testers (teachers from EA partner) for the “Virtual labs authoring tool” ensuring that the enabling technology has reached the necessary quality level for supporting the pilots developed in WP5. In order to ensure that the developed solution meets the expected requirements, validation sessions will be put in place. These validation sessions will rely on an Assembly, Integration and Validation (AIV) plan that will be written in parallel with the development tasks. The AIV plan will specify the integration protocol such as fixing the integration interfaces and practices between the individual technology components in the authoring tool. The goal of this protocol is to allow for individual components to work independently on algorithmic refinements and optimizations, while ensuring their smooth integration with the architecture of the authoring tool. Finally, the validation tests will be put in action by the EA partner with teachers in various sciences. In this way, we will verify that ENVISAGE technologies function to the expected performance criteria in an environment close to that of the author-user. This will ensure that the enabling technology has reached the necessary quality level for supporting the prototype demonstrators developed in WP5.
CERTH will lead this work package by driving the development effort in defining the architecture, designing the interface and implementing the “Virtual labs authoring tool”.
UoM will contribute in defining the architecture and designing the interface of the “Virtual labs authoring tool” given its long established experience in gaming technologies. UoM will also provide necessary components related to game analytics metrics that should be injected inside the templates by the information from UoM, AAU and GIO in WP2 and WP3.