The University of Melbourne’s Melbourne Connect is a state-of-the-art innovation and research precinct which connects people, places and possibilities by bringing together researchers, industry, government and community to develop innovative solutions to society’s biggest challenges.

Located on the fringe of Melbourne’s CBD, the Melbourne Connect precinct will be the new anchor location for the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology workspaces which also incorporates the School of Computing and Information Systems Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Usability Labs.

These labs support a group of HCI researchers who study and teach issues arising from humans interacting with emerging technologies. The labs will also enable these researchers to explore, design and develop innovative interactions using movement-based devices, immersive projection technology, eye-tracking equipment and Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality (AR/VR) software to provide an in-depth analysis and real-world insights to various technologies.

These state-of-the-art facilities were developed specifically for the HCI research group to provide individuals with an immersive experience. The 3D soundscape technology provides a deeper connection to multi-dimensional sound, creating an immersive environment for lab users. This innovative space is unique due to its flexibility to accommodate multiple activities. Not only limited to VR/AR related works, it also allows researchers to test their hypothesis in a controlled environment with non-university participants.

The labs provide the ideal high-tech environment to support studies in the next generation of interactive technologies.

AECOM provided multi-disciplinary engineering services on the lab facilities including ICT, audio visual, electrical, mechanical and structural engineering.

Outcomes and Value Add

  • AECOM’s ICT team worked closely with the University and the direct end users, through many comprehensive workshops to better understand the functionality and future use of the labs. User groups with the team of engineers and scientists discussed the type of research projects to be performed in the lab, the daily lab operations and the specific equipment required which formed the briefing for the design.
  • The design response was a combination of sophisticated solutions with operational interfaces which are simple to use. The cabling infrastructure within the lab deployed the approach of setting up the space using Structured Communications Cabling to minimise the cabling quantity and multiple plugging point for flexibility.
  • Working as an integrated multi-disciplinary engineering firm, inputs from ICT, electrical, mechanical and structural engineering team members were carefully coordinated, along with the architectural design to create an integrated solution to the space which required the incorporation of numerous complex requirements.
  • Sound innovation using Dolby Atmos sound technology was suggested and accepted by the user group, enabling future collaborations of the HCI group and other departments within the University or external third parties.
  • Through the progression of the design, AECOM’s ICT specialists and the University’s ICT and AV team collaborated to define and refine the ICT design into an innovative, high-tech space that enables efficiency, ease of use, flexibility for multiple users and a truly state-of-the-art facility with an immersive experience for users.