DOST-ASTI VRS App Brings Space Tech to Your Fingertips

3 weeks ago

Ready to take on an immersive adventure to learn, explore, and discover the country’s space technology? 

It is evident that the pandemic has pushed us to find more ways to innovate in order to meet the technological demands of the new normal. The limited physical interaction and sudden shift of operations to the online setting have impacted organizations in one way or another. These constraints, however, did not hinder the DOST-Advanced Science and Technology Institute (DOST-ASTI) in showing its commitment to bridge the gap between science and the people.

As the use of Virtual Reality (VR) returns to the spotlight and while physical tours of the Philippine Earth Data Resource and Observation (PEDRO) Center at the DOST-ASTI remains unavailable to the public, the institute developed the ASTI Virtual Reality Simulation (ASTI VRS) App to bring the tour experience virtually in the comfort and convenience of mobile phones.

The ASTI VRS showcases the country’s three Ground Receiving Stations (GRS), which house earth observation satellite transceiver antennas transmitting and receiving data to satellites, and the array of satellites available through the PEDRO Center.

As a creative attempt to bring space closer to the Filipino people, the ASTI VRS aims to further raise public information and awareness of existing space technology and infrastructure in the Philippines. Ultimately, the DOST-ASTI hopes to inspire the youth to take an interest and grow an appreciation for space science research through this mobile application.

How it works 
The ASTI VRS app works similarly to popular mobile games, following a standard control layout where users can navigate using the three main control buttons for movement, jump, and look around. The comprehensive computer-generated simulations of the ASTI-GRS in Metro Manila, the Davao GRS in Davao City, and the Iloilo GRS in Iloilo are fully explorable. Objects found in the different scenes are interactable, with brief descriptions of the space facilities and assets. For ease of use, buttons for Main Menu, Instructions, and Exit are also readily accessible.

Features 
The main features of the ASTI VRS allow users to LEARN, EXPLORE, and DISCOVER the space ground segment capabilities of the country being managed by DOST-ASTI through the PEDRO Center. The app also provides a close look at the country’s satellites where users can have a chance to operate the Diwata microsatellites and subscription satellites in the Satellite mission planning and Satellite Showcase features of the app.

Aside from these, the background music and sound effects of the ASTI VRS app also make the game more immersive and enjoyable for users. As a treat for the curious wanderers, the developers included secret stages in each GRS scene for users to find.

The game was developed using Unity, and its 3D models were made through Blender and Sketchup.

Potential users 
The ASTI VRS is targeted towards the youth but is open for use by everyone interested in space technology. The app has a user-friendly interface and can be used as a fun educational tool to explore, learn, and discover the Philippines’ space infrastructure.

Download and enjoy 
The ASTI VRS is now available for download entirely for free on Google Play. Make sure to install the latest version to enjoy the new and exciting features of the app.

Data Privacy 
The ASTI VRS team ensures the users that the app does not collect any personal data or information.

Moving forward 
The ASTI VRS is currently available to Android users, but the developers plan to cater to iOS users in the future. The development of a VR goggles-compatible version of the ASTI VRS is also still in the bag.

Exciting features are underway as the team continuously updates the app to make the scenes more realistic and enjoyable to play.

The ASTI VRS team is open to exploring collaborations with educational institutions, with the app having a significant potential to serve as a supplementary learning tool for students.

Stay tuned for more updates on the ASTI VRS by visiting the official website of DOST-ASTI at https://asti.dost.gov.ph/.

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About the ASTI VRS Team 
Developer: Mark Gerald Sy
3D Modelling Artists: Febbie Marylou Prado, Marck Ivan Camama, Mark Gerald Sy
Content Managers: Katrina Mina, Marck Ivan Camama
UI Graphic Artists: Aldrin Ramos, Marck Ivan Camama

About the PEDRO Center   
The Philippine Earth Data Resource and Observation (PEDRO) Center operates Ground Receiving Stations with satellite tracking antennas that receive, process, and distribute satellite images and other spaceborne data. These can be used for various applications such as disaster risk management, environmental monitoring, and terrestrial and maritime surveillance.

About DOST-ASTI  
Established in 1987 by Executive Order No. 128, the Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI) is an attached agency of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) that undertakes scientific research and development and technology transfer in the advanced fields of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), computing, electronics and their applications. The DOST-ASTI continues to dedicate itself to developing and delivering technology solutions to enable a productive, globally competitive, and resilient Filipino society.

Press Contacts  

Therese Quilnat
Information Officer, DOST-ASTI
(632) 9267244153
media@asti.dost.gov.ph

Nicole Chavez
Information Officer, DOST-ASTI
(632) 9171164719
media@asti.dost.gov.ph