Computing students from Reading College are bringing one of the town’s historic landmarks back to life thanks to innovative technology.
As part of Reading’s Year of Culture, the higher education computing and systems development students have created a virtual replica of the Abbey ruins by taking and stitching together more than 7,000 photos.
The students have collaborated with A-level history students to create a website where visitors can click on specific areas of the Abbey replica to access historical information.
The Reading Abbey Experience was launched at the college to key stakeholders today (December 8), including those from sponsors Reading UK CIC.
From 12-16 December it will form part of Light Up Reading, as the virtual tour is projected in the Town Hall Square from 6- 8pm each evening.
Student John Batchelor said: “This project has allowed us to apply what we have learnt in our course in a real life context, for a specific purpose and also with a real deadline. Working with the history students was interesting and meant we had to improve our communication skills. This has built our confidence and given us all a great sense of achievement. It has developed entrepreneurial skills like decision making and project management. We are hoping to go on to do further projects as a team in the future.”
Student Richard Szulc said: “The plaque in the Chapter House had the first two lines of an old song (known as a rota) in it. We researched it and found that the plaque is the earliest known copy of the composition ‘Sumer Is Icumen In’, so we chose this music to accompany the tour to help to bring the Abbey back to life for the user.”
The project has taken 10 months to develop, with over 800 hours dedicated by staff and students to build two PCs with 64 Gig of RAM, a 7th Generation i7 Processor and seven programming languages.
Zsuzsi Lyndsay, from Reading’s Year of Culture said: ‘Projects like this are vital for our next generation, offering development opportunities in a safe environment. The output of this project also speaks volumes for Reading as a town. If this is the level of our technologists coming out of Reading College, being able to create an experience using seven different programming languages, then the future of our digital creative sector is very bright.”
John Painter, the Secretary of the Friends of Reading Abbey said: “It makes you realise that there is actually a lot of ruin left. It is very impressive.”
To see the experience visit the Town Hall Square on 12 – 16 December from 6 – 8pm or follow the experience online using #ReadingAbbeyExperience.