Sunday, August 14, 2016

Virtual Reality and 360 degree

Virtual Reality

A relatively new market, Virtual Reality has jumped leaps and bounds in the last few years. Big companies like Google, Facebook, HTC, Microsoft and Sony have all begun to make a big pus.. The question is how does this new technology affect education?

One of the big players is Google and the angle they have chosen is cheaper and ease of access. Google Cardboard which is literally a cardboard box for your phone allows you access to apps that can give you a unique 360 degree view. This new app will be joined by Google Expeditions giving a google street view access to museums, historical sites, etc... Google cardboard is very easy to setup, requires very little investment and can be a huge game changer for education. Google has also added to Youtube the ability to experience 360 videos within your browser or even better in 360 degree with the Google Cardboard.

Youtube 360 Video

I also wanted to mention that you can create Photosphere's with Google's mobile app, but once you have a photosphere you can use a new tool called Storysphere to add audio clips. Imagine setting up an art room or library with pieces of of art or books in a circle, doing a photosphere and adding student audio to individual items. Here is an example

Facebook (Oculust Rift) and HTC (VIVE) have gone for the more in-depth, expensive option. They require a powerful computer, advanced headsets and controllers. HTC VIVE has gone a bit further and given us Room Scaling allowing you to walk around the environment and used touch controllers, Oculust Rift will be coming out with those soon. This allows an unlimited possibilities for discovery and potential. This solution is expensive but will push the limits even further. I know the video for Tilt Brush seems too good to be true but I have tried it and its pretty much what you see.

       HTC Vive Tilt Brush 

The big advantage of either of these is the possibility for students to learn to program and create their own apps. You can also use specialized cameras like the Theta S and the Nikon Keymission 360 (due out in October) to film in 360 degrees and add an extra perspective for movies and films.

Facebook has a limited 360 video but it is currently only browser based.

Sony's plan is to release an add-on for the playstation console (November 2016), which would be quite limited for educational purposes and probably only for gaming. Microsoft is working on Hololens, its main focus is actually Augmented Reality which is a twist on Virtual Reality, whereas Virtual items are placed on top of the real word, the system can also act in a complete Virtual Reality as well. Hololens looks to be another big step but is still in development and is not available to consumers.

At my school we now have a full setup with the HTC Vive and a bunch of Google Cardboards, the plan is to continue to explore this new market and have students be able to film and program for these platforms. A great starting point for programming in VR is VR Dev School. I will give an update on this subject as we continue to progress throughout the year.

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