VR Learning

Why choose emerging immersive technology for learning?

Technology is cool but not all cool technologies may be a necessary fit for your use case. As an Enterprise solution architect in my previous job there are some basic solution mandates that architect use for creating a solution for an enterprise. I found that this also helped me making my choice of technology for a problem area.

Solution Retrofit The technology landscape is huge and changing. There are new technologies created every day that claim to solve many problems – whether it is education, health or retail. Some technologies, frameworks and tools feel like a “trend” and you feel that this may be the right solution ! Many enterprises land in huge technical mess as they make wrong technical choices, which are not fitted to the problem they are trying to solve. Working at a problem and trying to create feasibility or technical/business fitment maps help us determine if that’s a right fit or not. Choosing a technology first and fitting our solution to it is the biggest mistake in the solution process.

Do not re-invent the wheel As architect it is an important lesson not to re-invent the wheel. I think sometimes developers tend to create their own solutions to a problem , even if the solution exists as they like to show their creative and analytical side. If a framework exist in extracting data to a certain structure, use it ! Gone are days when large organizations created their own standards and propriety frameworks. Most frameworks are open sourced nowadays and help most smaller to mid size organization take advantage of the research that has been spent by larger teams on creating frameworks.

Emerging Technologies It is sometimes necessary to take the first step in introducing new technologies or frameworks as you do not have another solution compelling enough. In one of our projects we chose a new specification knowing that it may introduce some risks for a multi-threaded application as we did not want to use proprietary vendor server which had performance bottlenecks and had very little options to scale it.

There are many other choices and decisions that make your decision critical as a wrong strategy can make or break your solution. It does not mean that you may not make mistakes, you do and I have done so many times even after many years of expertise but each “Lessons Learned” helps in refining your solutions.

Moving from enterprise solutioning to a VR/AR/3D world requires different solutioning perspectives. In the enterprise world my strong areas were data and here I was working on technologies that relied on strong UI/UX(User Interface/User Experience) and HCI(Human Computer Interaction) and “immersive user experiences”.The experience is a major factor in deciding on a tool, framework or content.

My initial experiences were to work on low-end immersion like a Google cardboard to high-end immersion like HTC Vive. The initial experiment with the cardboard was experimental. I reviewed some education apps and there were two issues-
1. The use of the cardboard was uncomfortable though lightweight as sometimes phone would fall off and required some complex movement to enable some controls.
2. The content which was 360 or VR did not provide the immersion and felt like an extended 3D experience.

The experiences extended to Samsung Gear using an expensive Galaxy S8 phone and some non phone based VR. The immersion was definitely better but some of the prolonged session created a nauseous feeling especially as some of the graphical components were glaring and created unknown sensations. After a 45 minutes usage or so the phones were relatively warm.

The Oculus and HTC Vive(registered to facebook,inc and htc,inc) was chosen as part of our Standing, Room Scale VR as it created the right environment and my first test use cases was for my high school kid whose engagement levels till date has not gone beyond 10 minutes on any education app or video in (desktops,iphone or ipads). Next was to choose a right experience as I did not want a dis-engaged teenager and we chose BodyVR which created an experience using a story like dive into a cell. The engagement was for 45 minutes and that was a surprise as I expected her to turn in the device after 15 minutes.
This was experimented on other high school students who have shown similar results. We have had more than 70 users try our VR experiences and that we found was feasible to use for students for learning. We found VR as a more suited tool for self-engagement versus a mass school based tool and hence our lab(s) provided those requirements .We have started researching AR/MR tools and technologies.
1. Room scaled and Standing
2. Experiences did not create any motion-sickness or feelings after long usage.
3. The usage needed supervision as it was tethered to provide falls of students.
While looking at our online model we look at the use cases in a similar manner.
1. How do we scale online models ? What about the security and safety of a student who cannot be “supervised” like in a onsite center?
2. The cost of investing in an infrastructure for home based solutions. Is it cost-effective for students if currently used?
3. How mature are the technology tools and software or networks? What kind of infrastructure is required to scale an online B2C system?

If you want more technical understanding of the various VR/AR/MR platforms, write to us for consulting at info@learnrollimmerse.com

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