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Great fun filming for our #VROvertheDoorstep Virtual Reality App. We are working on creating a VR tour of the Coats-Observatory Observatory in Paisley. Today Roar users played various parts … including being caught in the 1906 San Fransisco earthquake which the Coat’s Observatory recorded.

VR over the doorstep is an initiative by Roar to connect housebound elderly with local cultural events and locations. Getting out and about can be a challenge for older people with poor mobility. Being able to visit places with narrow stairs or where there are poor transport links can be nigh on impossible. Local charity Roar – Connections for Life’s VR over the doorstep project aims to use Virtual Reality, 360 filming and video streaming. This will be designed to enable the housebound elderly and other older groups and individuals to engage and connect with cultural events and places. Paisley has many beautiful listed buildings (second only to Edinburgh in terms of numbers), but many of them are inaccessible to people with poor mobility.

The project is currently creating a virtual tour of the historic Coates Observatory in Paisley. To bring the experience to life and engage the viewers, we will be making films to accompany the tour. In 1906 a Milne seismograph which was operating in the observatory’s seismic recording centre, detected the San Francisco earthquake. With photos and footage taken at that time and using green screen technology local Paisley people from Roar will dress in period costumes and become virtual tour guides, telling the future viewers what they are looking at and how to use their eyes to travel around the exhibits or move to the next floor.

Roar’s Manager Nicola Hanssen said ‘We’re so excited by the possibilities that this VR project will bring to people. Just imagine how liberating it will be to able to walk around the observatory as if they were there and learn about the telescopes and exhibits housed at the observatory.’

Rhoda McEwan was happy to come and be part of this. ‘we might be dressed in period clothes recording a historical event that is very important to Paisley but I think we are also making history with this ground-breaking pilot. I hope to stay active for as long as possible but it’s great to know that this technology might be able to help me still have great experiences if I am less mobile in future’

Simon Bishopp, who has been commissioned to undertake the technical design and delivery of this project said ‘ VR equipment is constantly developing and this project has had to grapple with a wide range of untested techniques but the feedback we are getting from the people who will benefit from it is very positive. It is hugely rewarding to be at the forefront of this work’

Funded by the Paisley 2021 cultural fund.