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Sunday, 18 February, 2001, 11:06 GMT
Accolade for virtual 'assistant'
Free Derry corner in the Bogside
Scene of shootings: The Bogside as it looks nowadays
A virtual reality system used in the Bloody Sunday Inquiry in Northern Ireland has scooped a prestigious award.

The system combines modern photographs with computer models to show how the Bogside area of Londonderry would have looked nearly 30 years ago.

The virtual reality assistant is used in the Saville Inquiry, set up to investigate the events of 30 January 1972 when British soldiers shot dead 13 people after a civil rights march.

Another man died later.

It is without doubt the most prestigious of al the awards we have won over the last decade

NICLR director Derek Kinnen

The firm behind the system, the Northern Ireland Centre for Learning Resources, has received a Europrix award for "empowering citizens and improving democracy with multi-media".

It fended off stiff competition from more than 500 entries across Europe, to clinch the accolade.

The prize was presented at a ceremony on Saturday night.

NICLR director Derek Kinnen said it was a "most significant achievement for a small organisation."

"It is without doubt the most prestigious of all the awards we have won over the last decade.

"Our success has made a considerable impression not just in Europe but around the world.

"It has allowed us to present, not only ourselves, but also Northern Ireland as a high technology country, capable of playing a major role in these new emergent technology-based economies."

Computer experience

The system uses a touch screen to literally walk around the areas of the Bogside.

Users can flick between the scenes showing the area as it is today, an artist's representation and the computer model.

The company said that last week the retired Bishop of Derry, Dr Edward Daly, re-enacted his memory of Bloody Sunday using the virtual reality assistant.

It also said it was the first time virtual reality had been used in such circumstances, to enable people to refer to the scene.

The system has been designed specifically to be used by those who have little or no experience of using computers.

Mr Kinnen added: "It was the depth of understanding that the NICLR team possess in areas such as human perception, and how people communicate with technology, which contributed significantly to the system's success."

The Bloody Sunday Inquiry which sits in the Guildhall in Derry has been adjourned until 26 February.

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See also:

14 Feb 01 | Northern Ireland
Leading republican addresses inquiry
13 Feb 01 | Northern Ireland
Witness compares chaos to 'Dodge City'
01 Feb 01 | Northern Ireland
First Bloody Sunday killing recalled
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