Don's Diary

December 11, 1998


Don hat and gown for the Honorary graduates graduation ceremony at Middlesbrough town hall. Sit on stage with our honoured guests, governors, and directors of the university. Give the citation for Trevor Baylis of "wind-up radio" fame and present him to the chancellor, Sir Leon Brittan. After lunch, trip to our unique virtual reality (VR) immersive experience. The Virtual Reality HEMISPHERIUM* is known fondly as the "Hemi" here in Middlesbrough. Sir Leon is the first to try the "flight-chair", then Trevor. Magic.


Diary says "no meetings" except senior managers' policy forum. Spend morning sorting new staff contracts, three more graduates start in the VR Centre; total now 30. Afternoon in the digital editing suite finalising the video for Wednesday, "Journey to the HEMISPHERIUM* Experience". The Hemi is a fully immersive VR experience for 22 people; 180 degrees, six-metre hemisphere with seven projectors synchronised to give high resolution and due to be opened shortly by secretary for state for industry Peter Mandelson.


Meeting to run through arrangements for the reality centre special interest group (RCSRG), two-day meeting in the VR Centre. Choose crackers and hats for evening banquet, sponsored by Trimension. Speak to Tomorrow's World team and executive officer to prepare brief for vice-chancellor.


8.00am start, RCSIG members arrive from CA, Houston, Glasgow, Nottingham, Martlesham, Theale, New York etc. Everyone to hear about VR applications, technology, R&D and operational matters. Afternoon spent in virtual Hartlepool visiting the Saxon village of AD 597 and the 1998 historic quays, in the VR Cinema. Then into the Hemi to fly over the Tees estuary and the former Graythorp oil rig yard plus visit the "super" hospital planned for the year 2002 - all virtually. Everyone is wowed.


Back to the Hemi to fly the Eurofighter, courtesy of British Aerospace. After another stimulating day, it's stollen and coffee before taking our American guests to the airport. Message on my desk: "Phone husband - he wants to make your acquaintance."


Email from Graham Walker, BT: "Congratulations on not only a highly ambitious installation, also a compelling immersive experience", refers to Hemi. Seven days before Mr Mandelson.

Janice Webster Director of the virtual reality centre University of Teesside.

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