UBC + LlamaZOO exploring forestry with VR/AR technology

2 min read
July 22, 2020

On June 17, we awarded $1.2M through the Ignite Program to four B.C.-based research projects that are creating technologies that solve real-world problems. One of the projects is a collaboration between the UBC's Dr. Dominik Roeser, FP Innovations, and LlamaZOO Inc. They received $300,000 to commercialize their software that helps forestry experts reduce expensive and difficult field work.

Managing forestry land is a difficult task. Stakeholders often need to travel to remote areas to validate and adjust forest management plans, which is costly, leads to increased safety risks, and has a negative environmental impact.

This consortium has developed the TimberOps software suite which brings the forest into offices, classrooms, and homes. It allows users to explore the landscape and forest using VR/AR technology through a regular screen or VR headsets. It enables users to visualize the forest over large areas for planning activities, such as the placement of conservation areas and the identification of wildlife habitats and cultural sites, but also allows for operational planning and support e.g. road design, harvest planning, and maintaining visual quality objectives.

It also allows policy makers, foresters, engineers, First Nations, community forests, and public consultation participants to make more accurate, informed and effective plans and analyses by virtually stepping into the digital forest data.

“In forestry we deal with very large areas, difficult terrain, challenging weather conditions and expensive field work,” says Dr. Dominik Roeser, Associate Professor in Forest Operations at UBC. “Our vision was to establish a digital twin of the forest to be able to do more planning from the office, thereby reducing the amount of field trips, particularly to remote areas.”

Innovate BC’s funding comes at a critical time to help accelerate a new innovative product to reach its end users not only in B.C., but across Canada and around the world. While the forestry sector and its stakeholders urgently need innovation to improve their market condition, the recent economic downturn also means they have less resources to invest in these innovations.

The Ignite funding will go towards two primary goals. First, advancing the software development required to commercialize TimberOps. Second, the consortium will use the money to launch the UBC Forest Engagement Initiative which will act as a collaboration and demonstration space for training and research centered on forestry data. The facility will also serve as an education platform and for industry and stakeholder engagement.

“We hope by further developing and commercializing TimberOps, that we can facilitate a better understanding and management of forest lands in B.C. and beyond, creating better economic opportunities, communities, and environments for the forest and people who live with it,” says LlamaZOO President and CEO, Charles Lavigne.

Are you looking for funding to commercialize your research project? The deadline to submit a Letter of Intent for the next round of Ignite funding is August 10, 2020. Learn more about the program here.

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