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.
See Also: 7 Ways Augmented Reality Is Changing Education Industry in the UK: The Future of Learning Is Now
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.
A Wake Inn Pulls Those Trailer Strings Ahead of a 2021 Release
There were plenty of virtual reality (VR) titles announced during the week that would normally have been the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), VR Bros’ A Wake Inn being one of them. An immersive horror experience originally slated for this year, the team has just released a new trailer moving the launch to early 2021.
A Wake Inn is a scary title featuring a classic horror staple, mannequins, those lifeless, dead-eyed entities which work so well at terrifying almost everyone. The twist here is that not only is the art deco hotel where the gameplay is set filled with an army of living dolls, you also happen to be one. And then there’s the mysterious Doctor Finnegan, owner of the estate who talks to you via a shortwave transmitter.
The story revolves around you finding out who you are, how you ended up here, and how to get out whilst avoiding the other not so friendly dolls. As VR Bros puts it: “Is it time for the player to take revenge on their maker and set themselves free, or perhaps they’re just a puppet being pulled by its strings?”
In a similar fashion to Last Labyrinth, you’re bound to a wheelchair, making A Wake Inn an entirely seated experience. That’s where the similarity ends, as in this experience you’re given free rein to explore the hotel and figure out its various escape room-style gameplay elements. You operate it just as you would any manual wheelchair, moving the controllers as if pushing the wheels.
Further thought has been put into the gameplay interactions as well, a flashlight for lighting up the darkness which does run out of batteries, a radio with custom stations, and the cinema room where you can watch tapes found around the building.
Working Up a Sweat With FitXR’s Dance Workouts
The UK is nearing the end of its second lockdown and even with that coming to an end plenty of restrictions will still be in place. With the winter weather kicking in and gyms closed if you want to stay healthy at home VR offers an entertaining solution. So VRFocus picked up its Oculus Quest and tried out one of the latest ways to get yourself moving, FitXR’s dance workouts.
FitXR (formerly BoxVR) previously only offered boxing style workouts, hitting pads with jabs, hooks and uppercuts in time to music. The title then diversified this month by adding dance workouts, helping to not only emulate a more traditional fitness class but also add a less stringent gameplay mode.
Selecting between beginner and intermediate classes you’ve got a central fitness instructor to follow who’ll tell you the next move and you simply replicate, easy. There were a number of different workout times depending on how energetic you’re feeling but for the gameplay video below VRFocus kept things nice and easy with a brief 3-minute session.
None of the moves were too complicated but they did get the whole body moving – rather than just the upper body – with the speed stepping up a notch toward the end. Even if the stock, pre-recorded phrases from the trainer occasionally repeat it’s nice hearing them, aiding that motivation on the longer sets. Plus, thanks to FitXR’s multiplayer functionality, you’re joined by others for more of a group workout.
For a bit of added competition if you get the moves spot on then you’ll be awarded points which tally on a live scoreboard behind the trainer. Having a quick glance and seeing where your position is helps to give a little kick, especially if you’re competitive.
Best VR Engines for Enterprise applications
Virtual reality (VR) is a simple term that refers to and describes a variety of technologies associated with immersion into a simulated 3D environment. It can be considered primarily as the point where human-computer interaction, computer graphics, computer visions and 3D sensing meet.
Once virtual reality engines were associated with gaming only, but now it has gained momentum in all industries. VR in the enterprise and consumer sector has taken the world of tech by storm. It has transformed from a figment of science fiction imagination into a billion-dollar business. According to expert estimations, the virtual reality (VR) market is forecast to reach 18.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2020, representing a 78% increase in spending from last year.
Virtual reality app development has become a highly competitive space, with several companies offering excellent VR engines for businesses and other large enterprises. With so many VR options available in the market, it is easy for company executives to get confused about the best ones that suit their business. We will look at some of the best VR engines for enterprise applications.
Top VR engines to consider
The Amazon Sumerian is the virtual reality engine developed by AWS. When using this VR engine, you don’t need 3D graphics or VR programming skills. The engine works with the popular VR platforms, including Oculus Go, HTC Vive Pro, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Google Daydream, and Lenovo Mirage. The Amazon Sumerian engine also works well with Android and iOS mobile devices.
The good thing about this VR engine is that it has numerous enterprise applications. You can use it for cases such as employee education, training simulation, retail & sales, virtual concierge, and field services productivity,
Some of the powerful features of Amazon Sumerian include;
· Sumerian editor;
· Sumerian hosts;
· Asset management;
· Capability to script the logic in any scene you create.
Amazon Sumerian offers several learning resources that make it easy for you to use the VR engine. The resources have valuable information for virtual reality developers.
Maya is one of the most widely used VR enterprise applications. The R software development tool from Autodesk is used for various purposes including D animations, motion graphics, and VFX software.
It is currently one of the most powerful VR engines as it is used for various functions such as dynamics, 3D rendering, effects, 3D animation, 3D shading, 3D modelling, motion graphics, pipeline integration, and more.
Unity is a popular VR engine as it allows you to develop solutions for various sectors. With Unity, you can create VR solutions for sectors like automotive, transportation, manufacturing, media & entertainment, engineering, construction.
The tool comes with numerous perks for developers such as;
- Artist and designer tools;
- A powerful editor for creating Unity 3D VR assets;
- CAD tools; and
- Collaboration tools.
Google VR for everyone
Google VR is the engine developed by the search engine giant, Google. The development tool allows you to create an immersive VR experience for your company. The tool and other VR engines are available on the Google VR developer portal.
The Google VR engine can be used to develop VR tools on numerous platforms such as Android, iOS, Unity, Unreal, and web. Google has software development kits (SDKs) for the various VR platforms it supports and can be accessed easily.
The Google VR offers numerous perks, which include;
- Low cost
- Easy to set up and use for developing VR apps
- Various VR platforms available, making it easier for developers to choose.
Using VR for your business can open up a whole new market for you. The VR engines discussed in this post are some of the best for enterprise applications. They allow virtual reality app development for different purposes and on multiple platforms.
Full VR Support Rolling out December for Microsoft Flight Simulator
It was great news when Asobo Studio revealed back in July that the new version of Microsoft Flight Simulator would feature virtual reality (VR) support, but slightly surprising that the HP Reverb G2 would be the only compatible device to begin with. If you’ve been awaiting further news then wait no longer, the studio has confirmed full support is coming for PC VR headsets next month.
The Microsoft Flight Simulator team held a live developer Q&A yesterday via Twitch where Martial Bossard, Executive Producer at Asobo Studio confirmed the incoming update. “We are going to open the VR for everyone,” he said. “It will also be open to all devices, the Oculus family, Valve family, every family of headset is supported there.”
Head of Microsoft Flight Simulator Jorg Neumann followed that up by saying: “The feedback has been so positive [from the closed beta] that we think we’re ready to put this out before the holiday season.” The VR addition will be part of Sim Update 2 which is dated for 22nd December and will be free.
Further details regarding VR implementation will be revealed during a Feature Discovery Series published on 17th December. As Bossard mentions in the Q&A its not just the main simulator itself which will be VR compatible but also all the menus – alpha players had to remove their headset to navigate these areas.
As the roadmap indicates, Asobo Studio has plenty in store recently releasing a World Update for the US with a World Update for the UK coming in January.
Third-party creator community stats have been released showing that 214 airports have been created so far, with another 48 announced and an additional 118 are in production. 9 aircraft have so far been released another 56 are coming whilst another 20 are on the cards.
Microsoft Flight Simulator gives players the entire world to explore with real-time weather and traffic systems. For further updates on VR compatibility, keep reading VRFocus.
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