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Virtual Reality in Wheat Quality Research and Outreach

Dr. Senay Simsek is using virtual reality tools to enhance the research and outreach of her wheat quality and carbohydrate chemistry program.

December 17, 2020

"Virtual reality is transforming research and outreach activities in the Plant Sciences Department at NDSU, and the wave is just beginning," says Dr. Senay Simsek, professor and director of the wheat quality and carbohydrate research program.

Virtual reality is a three-dimensional, computer-generated experience that allows a person to interact with spaces and objects within an entirely virtual environment. Simsek worked with Be More Colorful, a virtual reality solutions firm in Fargo, North Dakota, who created 360-degree images of the wheat quality and carbohydrate labs. Then they embedded informational videos provided by Simsek about the lab tests and equipment into the 360-degree images to create a complete virtual tour of the wheat quality and carbohydrate chemistry laboratories.

Designated users of this technology access the virtual tours using a VR headset or as a desktop experience in any web browser. During the tour, they experience wheat quality facilities in 3D, which creates the feeling that they are visiting in person, even though they may be thousands of miles away. Now, anyone can explore from the comfort of their home or office how wheat kernels are tested for quality, how wheat is milled, how flour and dough samples are analyzed, how bread is baked for end-product quality, and many other tests.

Simsek often meets with various trade teams and farmer groups, and visits K-12 schools. Now, she can utilize VR technology to show what type of research she is conducting at NDSU. "Leveraging virtual reality helps enhance the research and outreach experiences for the people we work with," she says.

Simsek implemented the browser-based 3D experience during this year's Hard Red Spring Wheat Crop Quality meeting. Incorporating the 3D tour experience at the virtual crop quality meetings was met with great appreciation by the attendees.

"Virtual reality is offering some promising benefits to our research and outreach capabilities," says Simsek. She believes the trend won't be slowing down any time soon, so researchers should expect to see more virtual reality technology enter their lives and laboratories in the near future.

The VR tours containing Simsek’s training videos are not publicly available but the 360-degree images of the labs can be viewed at Move the computer mouse around to view different parts of the room. Click the drop-down menu in the top left corner of the image to access other rooms. If you would like to schedule a VR experience and learn more about wheat quality in the world of VR, contact Dr. Senay Simsek at

Author: Dr. Senay Simsek,
Editor: Kamie Beeson,

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