Virtual reality has become more and more advanced as we have progressed through various stages of technological development. Higher capacity circuits allow for an amazing size shrinkage. As a result VR hardware that once spanned the whole room can now fit in your hand!
The masterstroke probably came in 2012, when Palmer Luckey thought about duct-taping a goggle-size 3D display to his head. The famed Oculus Rift was born.
The Oculus Rift is a virtual reality hardware that fits over the head and in front of your eyes like a helmet with a visor. It generates a fully 3D, stereoscopic render that gives you the feeling of being there. Additionally, the VR headset can track the head movements of its user on 6 axis, 3 rotational and 3 positional. This allows for a complete user immersion and pin-point viewing control.
Another great technology that is gradually finding its way in Oculus Rift is Leap Motion. This results in advanced control from the hands of the observer. Thus leading to a more refined interactive function that augments the whole virtual reality experience – the user now doesn’t need to have a separate controller, they can use their hands to interact with the virtual world!
Despite the fact that its current, primary application seems to be immersive gaming, the Oculus Rift has a bright future in other arenas. The chief among these, without a speck of doubt, is education. Think about it. Which student won’t look forward towards learning when they can do so by interacting? In short, learning your history class can become one of the most compelling experience ever.
The Oculus Rift has been making inroads into the education sector slowly but surely. Only recently, Mendel Grammer School in Opava, Czech Republic introduced the DK2 in one of its classrooms. The headsets were incorporated with Leap Motion sensors and students were presented with an interactive simulation of the human body on it. It was a charged-up affair with students showing interest in learning about the topic as they virtually gripped various organs of the body.
Probably the biggest advantage virtual reality headsets will bring to the classroom is the ability to go to a place virtually. Virtual trips to history sites, museums, or even planets in our solar system are already made possible by brave developers. Such excursions are very expensive and thus impossible for an average school to carry out. The Oculus Rift allow students to go places while sitting comfortably in their shairs.
In mid-2014, a research team at Harvard created a software called the “The Giza Project”. It is compatible with the DK2 and allows the user to virtually explore the Pyramids of Egypt. The same team is currently trying to bring the Ancient Rome to virtual reality as well. The future looks really bright for virtual learning.
At Unimersiv, we are working hard to push VR education further. There are already some impressive educational experiences that you can experience on your DK2. Here are some of them:
Apollo 11 (we backed them on Kickstarter!) is for now the best example to show that learning history through virtual reality will be the most amazing thing ever. In this experience, you become Neil Armstrong on what is the 20th century greatest achievement.
We are also working personally on Colosseum, an educational experience to bring you back to the Roman Colosseum as it was in its brightest days to let you experience the thrill of being surrounded by 55.000 romans watching your fight…
Additionally, the Rift can be utilized to train better professionals. This can be done by acclimatizing them to their future work conditions and presenting them with situations that can arise there.
While the DK2 from Oculus Rift is still a prototype, the first consumer version is set to be out in mid-2016. Its future looks really secure because of its different applications.
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We write about the use of Virtual Reality for non-gaming applications.