XR technology is disruptive and it’s been a disruptive year. “Disruptive” isn’t the keyword for this article, but has definitely been a buzzword in 2020.
Here, we’ll be exploring how all of this disruption has potentially led to lasting and positive change in education.
The Road In
To start, it is important to point out that XR technology in education isn’t a new concept. We’re all thinking about remote and distance learning a lot more than we might have been this time last year, and the topic has a lot to thank coronavirus for – but not everything.
The Immersive Learning Research Network, an organization dedicated to promoting expanded education opportunities through responsible XR technology, has been around for at least six years.
Their most recent annual conference took place in VR in late June and speakers addressed a number of the promises and problems facing XR in education in this unique situation.
VR in Primary and Secondary Education
VR in primary and secondary education more-or-less has a pin in it these days, depending on where you are. Location-based VR experiences (experiences offered at installations rather than as experiences that can be downloaded and used anywhere) were on the rise at locations like museums and art installations last year.
Unfortunately, with many public institutions closing down due to coronavirus, many of these experiences have gone with them. Even where the locations have reopened, few are interested in the shared headsets that many of these experiences require.
That’s not to say that VR is entirely gone from primary and secondary education. As long as many teachers are relearning how to teach with new technology, some schools are embracing the opportunity by introducing VR.
Computing giant Lenovo recently released an update to their VR Classroom package. The update includes the fruits of partnerships with more conventional remote learning applications, and is designed to be easy to use for educators without XR experience.
XR technology manufacturers, including Lenovo, have prioritized making headsets out of easy-to-clean materials and removable covers.
It’s true, most children don’t have access to their own VR headsets and most schools can’t buy a whole fleet of them. As a result, many VR education solutions include interfaces that can be accessed through a standard web browser.
Still, the issue of accessibility for VR solutions in education is one of the reasons that AR solutions are usually seen as more viable.
VR in Post-Secondary Education
VR is more common in post-secondary education, including as part of advanced degrees or specialist training.
FundamentalVR, an XR technology platform for training healthcare professionals, has added two new accreditations in 2020. While they pride themselves on their haptics-based content, they recently released a version that runs on less-specialist equipment to make it available to a larger number of students.
AR in Education
While VR is usually seen as more exciting, there are a number of reasons that AR is more promising for most education use cases.
For one thing, AR applications run on more accessible devices, including mobile phones. AR also tends to be more user-friendly, which comes in handy when parents are also educators. XR education companies like DEVAR reported increased sales when quarantines first kept children home from school.
Similar to VR, AR experiences were already being used in education – including location-based experiences at institutions like museums. Now, the goals of most educational AR experiences are to bring educational content to students where they are.
XR for Professional Development
Of course, XR technology in education isn’t just for “students.” Groups like Taqtile address the growing “skills gap” resulting from older generations leaving the workforce and younger employees entering.
These newer employees have less work experience, but have more technical acumen. Exponential technologies like extended reality are the best way to bridge the gap. This is particularly the case with “soft skills” – skills that you can’t learn from a textbook.
XR Technology Is Not Going Anywhere
It’s impossible to talk about XR technology trends in 2020 without mentioning covid. However, all of these trends were already under way – and are likely to continue when the world returns to normal.
Earlier this month indie team TomatoVR released its fifth virtual reality (VR), Wolf Attack, a wave shooter inspired by the Three Little Pigs nursery rhyme. Supporting PC VR headsets, this weekend VRFocus has got a bunch of Wolf Attack codes for our readers to win.
In Wolf Attack you play one of those three little pigs, trying to protect your home from those damn beasts. Featuring solo and multiplayer modes, in single-player it’s just you trying to protect the village using either shotguns or a bow and arrow. There are four waves to complete and you can heal yourself if needed, pretty simple stuff.
The multiplayer component is going to provide greater longevity by offering online PvP. You’re not directly fighting each other, instead, after choosing from one of six characters you’re both placed in fixed positions on the battlefield. Kill the most enemies to come out victorious.
So onto the competition. VRFocus has Steam codes for Wolf Attack to giveaway. There are multiple ways to enter the giveaway with the standard prize draw entry rules applying: Follow us (or already be following us) on Twitter (@VRFocus) or alternatively, visit our Facebook page or YouTube channel to get an entry for each. The competition will be open until 11.59 pm BST on Thursday, 27th September 2021. The draw will be made shortly thereafter. Best of luck.
Editor at VRFocus who has reported on the VR industry since 2015. A keen gamer since the days of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Peter enjoys covering all aspects of the technology; from the latest consumer hardware to enterprise use cases.
The end of September is looking a little light when it comes to virtual reality (VR) releases. Thankfully, Salmi Games has just come along to save the day, confirming that its shooter Sweet Surrender will be getting a multi headset release across Oculus and Steam platforms next week.
Sweet Surrender is a single-player roguelite set in a dystopian sci-fi world, with the goal being to make it past teams of robotic enemies and up to the very top of a megatower. Roguelite videogames have become really popular with VR developers with recent editions like YUKI, Cosmodread and Until You Fall all perfect examples of variations of the genre. Sweet Surrender keeps to what makes the format so addictive, you have one life to complete your objective, supplied with an arsenal of weapons and the knowledge that if you fail you have to start again.
However, you don’t restart back at zero. Along the way you can find and collect upgrades to alter your abilities, making you stronger for the next run whilst tailoring your character to your own playstyle. Guns, explosives and melee weapons will all be available, some you’ll have to buy by collecting currency. But you also need to be on the lookout for hidden secrets, equipment chests and upgrade chips stashed behind suspiciously weak wall sections.
A new run means new environments that are procedurally generated every time. From the look of Sweet Surrender, it’s going to offer very intense action with Salmi Games employing a range of mechanics including jump pads, ziplines and grappling hooks to help you ascend the tower.
“Sweet Surrender began development shortly after the 1.0 release of GrowRilla and is our first fully-budgeted game. Investment support from the German federal government enabled us to both kickstart our project, expand our team and go full throttle into developing Sweet Surrender!” the team notes in a statement.
Sweet Surrender is scheduled to launch for Oculus Quest, Rift and SteamVR headsets on 30th September 2021, retailing for $25 USD. Check out the awesome announcement trailer below, and for further updates on the project, keep reading VRFocus.
Like many analyst firms, market sizing is one of the ongoing practices of AR Insider’s research arm, ARtillery Intelligence. A few times per year, it goes into isolation and buries itself deep in financial modeling. The latest such exercise zeroes in on mobile AR revenues.
This takes the insights and observations accumulated throughout the year and synthesizes them into hard numbers for spatial computing ( see methodology and inclusions/exclusions). It’s all about an extensive forecast model coupled with rigor in assembling reliable inputs.
So what did the latest forecast uncover? At a high level, global mobile AR revenue is projected to grow from $6.87 billion in 2020 to $26.05 billion in 2025, a 30.5 percent CAGR. This sum consists of mobile AR consumer and enterprise spending and their revenue subsegments.
Drilling down, our latest Behind the Numbers installment looks at mobile AR enabling tech. How much is being spent on software that helps brands and media companies create and distribute AR experiences? This precedes the AR ad placement revenue we recently examined.
Jumping right into the numbers, global mobile AR media & marketing enablement revenue is projected to grow from $1.24 billion in 2020 to $5.84 billion in 2025. This is a 36.4 percent compound annual growth rate, and represents one of AR’s most opportune subsectors.
As noted, this category includes software that enables enterprises or developers to create consumer-facing AR such as games, apps, ads, and entertainment. Buyers of this technology (software license or SaaS) include enterprises that develop AR experiences for their customers.
This makes spending on AR media and marketing enablement fall into a category we call B2B2C. It will continue to develop as an opportune AR revenue category, as it represents the proverbial “picks and shovels” that democratize advanced AR experience creation and distribution.
These enablement functions will grow in demand as AR itself does, because they lower barriers to creation and accelerate time to market. This includes AR marketing experience creation platforms such as 8th Wall as well as infrastructure and distribution enablers such as Mawari and VNTANA.
As for vertical breakdowns in AR enablement software spending, it’s fairly even across media, ad creation* and gaming (see chart above). Advertising creation leads these categories slightly, due to brand marketer AR adoption, and a strong business case with demonstrable ROI.
Spending is also driven by, and correlated to, the growing number of active AR developers and creatives, which will reach an estimated 4.16 million by 2025. This includes a global base of creative pros that could convert to AR, given low-friction tools such as Adobe Aero.
As AR continues to become “table stakes” among brand marketers, this base of AR creative pros will migrate to the medium like osmosis. Beyond hands-on developers and creators, brand marketing departments and ad agencies will increasingly adopt and license AR platforms.
This trend will benefit all AR enablement tools outlined above, but one area we’re particularly bullish on is Web AR. The streamlined use case and relative lack of activation energy (e.g., downloading apps) could make web AR pull ahead as a go-to modality for camera commerce.
We’ll pause there and circle back in the next Behind the Numbers installment to drill down on another spatial computing subsegment.
AR continues to prove it’s value and efficacy as a shopping tool. Though its admittedly taking longer to lift off the ground in terms of mass-consumer adoption, it’s achieving several small wins. That includes steady growth in user-traction as well as brand-marketer adoption.
The former includes usage figures that continue to roll out from AR leaders. For example, Snap reports 200 million daily active AR users, while Facebook reports 600 million monthly AR users. Google Lens — another form of AR shopping — is used 3 billion times per month.
To further validate much of the above, Facebook released a recent report on AR’s growth metrics in a shopping/commerce context. Containing a mix of consumer surveys and revenue projections, we’re featuring it for this week’s Data Dive, with takeaways and strategic implications below.
So what did Facebook’s report uncover? Here are the hightlights we’ve extracted for AR Insider readers.
– More than one billion people have experienced AR (not necessarily active users) across Facebook’s Spark AR platform. This includes News Feed, Messenger, Portal & Instagram.
– 86 percent of users report that they are open to branded AR experiences.
– 78 percent of surveyed consumers say AR is a fun way to interact with brands; and 74 percent believe AR can bridge the gap between online and offline.
– Searches for AR and VR-related content on Facebook grew 44 percent year-over-year.
– Membership in Facebook groups related to AR and VR grew 74 percent year-over-year.
– Instances of users messaging sellers on Facebook Marketplace regarding AR or VR listings grew 75 percent year-over-year.
– English-language searches on AR and VR within emerging markets grew 2x that of mature economies year-over-year, signaling geo-specific opportunities.
– Looking forward, 75 percent of business leaders anticipate using VR and AR to boost their marketing and commerce strategies over the next two years.
– In monetary terms, this adoption translates to a 6x increase in brand spending in camera commerce.
Building from the above data, Facebook continues to develop its AR playbook. As it does that, the centerpiece is increasingly Instagram. Though News Feed and Messenger are fitting places for AR, Instagram’s one-billion active camera-forward users are more naturally aligned.
To expand on that alignment, social sharing is core to Instagram which breeds AR lens virality, just like it does on Snapchat. Instagram also continues to cultivateshoppable content. This makes eCommerce and AR — already natural bedfellows — on a collision course at Instagram.
Instagram is earlier in its AR lifecycle, so the above will play out similar to how it did at Snap and at Facebook’s other properties. This progression includes new AR formats, user acclimation, community lens creation, and monetization. The latter is where brands pay to distribute AR lenses.
So far, this has all unfolded to some degree as Instagram works with fashion retailers to integrate AR product try-ons as part of its in-app transaction features. These integrations are logical, as Instagram has become a place for consumers to discover products and transact.
Panning back, Facebook has several tracks for spatial computing, which will eventually converge. It has primary VR ambitions to connect the world in more immersive ways (and monetization therein); AR glasses, Live Maps and deep XR research; and nearer-term mobile AR lenses.
The latter may be the least sexy of the lot, but it’s a key step to get users and developers spatially acclimated. That will prime the next era of headworn experiences that Facebook is aiming for. But in the meantime, mobile AR is generating real traction and revenue today.