Students looks to bring Ghana to Lehigh using virtual reality

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Asante Asiedu, ’17, will use his virtual reality project, Udeesa, to bring the Ghanaian landscape to those who cannot visit. Aseidu will visit Ghana to get footage in July. (Courtesy of Asante Asiedu)

In 2016, Asante Asiedu, ’17, helped design and build Vertra, a virtual reality app that gives users a complete tour of Lehigh’s campus.

This summer, he will travel to a different landscape — Ghana — to put his virtual reality skills to the test with his new project, Udeesa.

Asiedu became interested in virtual reality after he helped build the virtual reality tour of Lehigh’s campus. He said the process of taking those pictures was one of the best experiences he’s had at Lehigh, and he wanted to find way he could apply it to an educational project.

That’s how he came up with Udeesa.

Asiedu thought it would be exciting to showcase the landscape of Ghana to Lehigh students, as well as students in Africa who don’t have the means to visit new places.

“This project seems like it will be an effective way to deliver experiences otherwise impossible,” Charles Inwald, ’19, said.

Asiedu wants to create a website that students can use to explore the places he visits in Ghana.

He became interested in Ghana at a young age. His mother is from there, and speaks of it frequently.

“I want to be able to showcase the beauty of this country to people that don’t have the means to visit in person,” he said.

Asiedu is using a Ricoh Theta camera for Udeesa, which stitches together 180 degree pictures. After he compiles all of the photographs, he will use an app called Unity to recreate the landscapes.

“It’s a camera I recommend anyone who’s interested in virtual reality to use,” Asiedu said. “It’s easy to use and is very good quality.”

Asiedu is taking pictures from the perspective of a Ghanaian resident, which is a feature special to Udeesa. He wants people to get the feel of what it’s like to live there full time, and what the Ghanaian people experience on a daily basis.

Asiedu emphasized how important it is for these images to be seen by other African residents who don’t have the means to travel. He plans to attend a Harvard business conference to discuss how he can implement these images into other African schools.

“I want students in other parts of Africa that don’t have the funds to travel to see the beautiful scenery of (Ghana),” Asiedu said. “I think it’s important for them to learn about it and experience it, to show them what’s out there, even in their own country.”

Vanessa Pedraza, ’20, and other Lehigh students are excited about Udeesa, and admire the story behind it.

“I think Asante’s cause behind this project is really admirable,” Pedraza said. “He will be helping so many people be able to actually see what their continent, or where they’re from, looks like.”

Asiedu will begin taking photos in Ghana on July 20.

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