The image of the traditional classroom is easy to conjure in your mind.
Whether in a K-12 school classroom setting or an on-the-job training class, the mind’s eye automatically pictures rows of learners facing a single instructor. Participants are likely taking notes and observing demonstrations the best they can in a group setting. Hands-on practice with educational materials is likely limited due to time and lack of resources.
Now imagine this: the same classroom, but learners are all wearing Virtual Reality headsets.
From the outside, the room probably looks like a massive game of charades, but behind those masks, learners are interacting with educational materials in ways that were inconceivable in the traditional classroom.
Let’s imagine that learners in this scenario are studying parts of a combustion engine. One user is surrounded by parts of an engine, all floating in the air and waiting to be interacted with. Another user is wielding a virtual camera and is filming intricate details of the interior of their engine for further study later. And a third student has leaned in and stuck his face directly into the middle of his own engine to get a first-hand view of the movement of parts within.
Sound impossible, both practically and financially speaking?
Not with developers creating robust new software and virtual reality hardware prices finally becoming more reasonable. This scenario is not just attainable; we here at VisionThree are working to make this vision a reality because we believe this is precisely what the classroom of the future will look like.
To understand this emerging reality better, we need to explain a few fundamentals fueling this evolution.
Three main factors are at play in the success of the Virtual Reality classroom:
- “6DoF” & New Hardware
- Powerful Software
This refers to the freedom of movement of a body in 3-dimensional space. Specifically, the body is free to move forward/backward, up/down, left/right, and can rotate about three perpendicular axes (often referred to as pitch, yaw, and roll).
This is an improvement over more rudimentary Virtual Reality (such as that of Google Cardboard, etc.) in that the user can move about in the virtual space, rather than simply view it from a fixed vantage point. This can be described as being underwater in the deep end of the swimming pool versus looking at the deep end from the vantage point of the shallow end.
Now we get to the really exciting part: Giving students Avengers-style strength and the ability to wield objects limitlessly. Limits on depth, width, space, and weight yield in this new environment.
Improved software is allowing users to “grab” and interact with virtual objects in previously impossible ways thanks to 6DoF.
Heavy or unwieldy objects can be picked up, manipulated, and studied from every angle, thanks to the weightlessness provided by virtual reality. Think of how this applies to industrial applications from gas turbine engines (check out our work with Rolls-Royce) to the inner workings of a nuclear power plant or a geothermal climate control system. This is what inspires our team: we’re literally making the impossible appear completely natural.
This sort of “up close and personal” study would be physically impossible in the real world. Controllers also allow users to “teleport” around massive spaces, allowing much larger-scale environments to come to life rather than acting as passive backgrounds.
Virtual Reality is following the same trend we have seen in years past with personal computers, mobile phones, and cloud computing. Quickly falling costs are making the technology approachable for a far wider audience.
Gone are the days of spending $5,000 per rig for VR gear. The newest devices are extremely approachable around $800 or less (Oculus Quest is set to debut at $400). This makes them extremely attractive to the enterprise. THIS is key to really changing the classroom of the future. Now we can have classrooms full of students, ALL in VR – before at $5k a pop, we could NOT. This price drop is guaranteed to be a game changer for the world of K-12 education.
Beyond pricing, true 6DoF technology creates opportunities to expand curriculum and truly get creative with virtual educational materials. Students can remove a gallbladder, repair a circuit board on the International Space Station, or walk on the moon! Our Facebook page is literally full of examples ranging from fashion design to treating depression to helping disabled senior citizens enjoy nature again.
As they say, if you can dream it…
For educators, content is only limited by curriculum, and with Virtual Reality, curriculum just became limitless!
Now, let’s talk a bit about this new hardware! The Vive Focus Plus and the Oculus Quest (and the Rift S) are the newest game changers to this area. Tech like this puts VR hardware in reach where previously it was too costly for high quantity use such as a K-12 environment. But all that is about to change…
“Professional-grade, portable VR solution that is easy to deploy and manage. Now with 6DoF tracking.”
When it comes to the new eye-tracking features, here’s how HTC is describing this new hardware:
“Most standalone devices come with trade-offs—especially when it comes to visual quality. Not the VIVE Focus Plus. Users will be able to see even more details in excellent clarity with reduced ring effects thanks to all-new lenses.”
The Oculus Quest was announced on Monday, and immediately sold out in pre-orders. It is being touted as a wireless standalone headset that promises: “No PC. No wires. No limits.” A bold claim indeed! Oculus goes on to say that users will be able to:
“Simply set up the device with your Oculus mobile app and Oculus Quest has everything you need to explore VR, right out of the box.”
Like the Vive Focus Plus, Oculus Quest is slated to host top-notch motion-tracking using “Oculus Insight” to ‘instantly reflect [the user’s] movement in VR.’
Both of these devices use the same processor (brain), the Snapdragon processor. The processors are getting better (not requiring the big gaming PC anymore), and developers are getting better at producing content that can play on lower spec devices. Again, ALL promoting the realization of the classroom of the future.
VisionThree has already taken advantage of 6DoF by creating our industry-leading V3CORE platform.Years of development have gone into this robust powerhouse software that delivers the impossible: Multiple people in a virtual environment without the previously associated hardware costs.
Collaborating closely with our customers has helped us pinpoint common threads in functionality requests. Now a curated collection of functionalities, the V3CORE is among the best options in the industry because it’s been designed alongside our customers. We worked together to meet the needs of real educators and trainers at some of our country’s most respected brands.
This is not our vision of what training should be. This is customers driving our innovation to deliver a solution that produces measurable results.
Now the exciting part for future clients: We have a platform that virtually anyone can immediately benefit from due to the fact that our team has already completed principal development.
This allows us to offer a more robust product at a lower cost, creating a more affordable entry point for new customers.
Our software allows multiple people to interact within the same virtual space, providing unique collaboration opportunities for our customers. Some tools included on this platform include:
- Explosion – allows a complicated object to be “exploded” into all of its individual components for easier identification and definition
- Cross-section – allows an intact virtual object to be bisected to reveal the inner workings “in action” (i.e. the path of air moving through a combustion engine)
- Interactive camera – users can move a camera around to get better views, close-ups, and capture video or stills images for review outside of the virtual environment
These functions are only possible in the virtual space, and they provide priceless opportunities for on-the-job training curriculums.
With a virtual classroom, the curriculum can be content-focused, without delivery and execution getting in the way of a single learner’s experience.
Virtual Reality provides experiential learning that you simply can’t find in a traditional classroom. Rather than having to reset between practicing a skill, users can drill a particular task again and again, resetting at the touch of a button. This unparalleled level of experiential learning increases retention rates in learners and provides unmatched ROI to employers who will see training times slashed due to their employees gaining the ability to practice skills again and again until mastery is achieved.
In so many ways, this emerging technology is as exciting to trainers and safety managers as the advent of the mobile phone was to communications, mapping, and video.
The Time is NOW!
Like nearly everything in life, timing is always essential.
Virtual Reality is hitting its stride as a viable tool for more than just hardcore gamers.
By striking while the iron was hot, this powerful technology has finally found its footing and has officially proved itself as more than just a flashy fad. But those gamers ARE making an impact.
“Gamification” of training methods has become an overwhelmingly successful strategy in education.
Schools AND businesses are also discovering that real productivity is possible when cutting-edge software is combined with the newest tech. From the STEM classroom to on-the-job OSHA safety training, education has found a new home in Virtual Reality.
As we discussed in our last post, dangerous and difficult tasks are best learned in consequence-free environments that are only available in a virtual setting. From fixing a jet engine to removing a gallbladder, the possibilities are ever-evolving and only limited by the scope of a particular trainee’s needs.
Education and curriculum development will never be the same, thanks to the contributions of Virtual Reality. Paradigms are shifting, and very soon, VR headsets will be just as commonplace as computers in classroom settings.
We’re investing in the people, the technology, and the relationships that will keep the VisionThree team as the vanguard of this evolution.
The only question left is simple: How big can you dream?
VisionThree, LLC (a.k.a. V3), is an interactive creative agency headquartered in Indianapolis, IN, USA. Focused on Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Touch interactive, we serve and support clients globally with innovative and immersive experiences. V3 specializes in creating experiences that engage, educate, and entertain. Please learn more at VisionThree.com