Virtual reality projects us in the maze of microscopic and macroscopic environments, allowing us to explore the secrets of nature. 
The peculiarity of the project "This is (not) just a tree" is to develop a system that offers a virtual reality experience to live an enriched interaction with the plant and animal world. This technology aims to improve the visitor experience in naturalistic places, creating engaging narrative paths. 
The project's host site is the Botanical Garden of Padua, which is the oldest Botanical Garden in the world and a UNESCO heritage site. Virtual reality is configured like a guardian of nature and its delicate balances allowing us to explore it without violating its integrity.
To create a playful and educational experience, a co-design approach was adopted, including all the stakeholders in the design process and inform the requirements of the experience. Academic experts were involved in brainstorming an affinity diagram activities and target users (i.e., adults and young visitors) were inquired on their needs and preferences through an on-site survey at the Botanical Garden. Based on the results obtained, experts of biodiversity and tree species provided the educational contents, collected in the laboratory and the field, and a prototype was created. After the development of the virtual reality system and installation on-site, field tests were carried out to evaluate aspects related to usability and user experience, involving target users. 
Through the immersive virtual reality, we can make the naturalistic heritage accessible and offer an engaging and interactive experience, raising awareness of the environment and its value for humanity and other animals.
To protect nature, we have to know it.
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Detailed Project Information
Project Start Date: September 2018 
Project End Date: October 2019
Project Duration: 12 months
Project Coordinator: Prof. Laura Guidolin (Department of Biology, University of Padua)
HIT Principal Investigator: Prof. Luciano Gamberini
HIT Staff: Alice Bettelli, Rosa Buson
Project number: 2105-30-11-2018
Call (part) identifier: POR FSE 2014-2020
Total Project Funding: €118.136,00 €
Partners: Department of Biology, Human Inspired Technology Research Centre, Department of Land,
Environment, Agriculture and Forestry, Botanical Garden of Padova (University of Padua) | WBA
Project Srl, WBA Onlus, Uqido Srl, PAN Srl, GTF Onlus
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