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Ottawa firms put their stamp on Canada Science and Tech Museum revamp

David Sali, Ottawa Business Journal
December 21, 2017

For 50 years, Locomotive 6400 has been an iconic symbol of a bygone era in Canadian transportation for visitors to the Canada Science and Technology Museum.

Designed and built in Montreal for Canadian National in 1936, the giant engine was a technological marvel of its time, using wind tunnel testing pioneered by the National Research Council to help create its aerodynamic shape.

As part of the revamped museum’s drive to become more interactive, visitors will now not only get to see Locomotive 6400, they’ll get to experience what it was like to drive thanks to virtual reality technology from local startup SimWave Consulting.

Users wearing a VR headset feel every rumble of the tracks beneath them and smell the scent of burning coal as the whistle blows in their ear and steam shoots past their face – effects created using compressed air.

“It’s a multi-sensory experience, which is really, really cool,” says Matthew Thomas, director of business development at SimWave.

“It’s a very immersive way to complement the locomotive that’s actually there. You get to see how big it is and then you get to go drive it, which is really cool.”

The VR booth is the second major museum project in Ottawa for SimWave, which was launched in 2013 and now employs seven people at its Kanata office. The company also created a virtual reality experience for the Canadian War Museum that lets visitors feel like they’re advancing with the Canadian assault on Vimy Ridge in 1917.

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