Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Virtual and Augmented Reality Devices with Educational Potential

Graphic of many people wearing virtual reality headsets.
Image from Thinkstock.
There were a number of new products with educational potential shown at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2016 held in early January. Popular among them were virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) devices nearing consumer and business-level versions intended for mass adoption. VR typically simulates an entire environment whereas AR supplements a real-world view with computer generated elements. Augmented reality can work particularly well for topics in which it is not possible to expose learners to real-world environments that they will be expected to operate within.

You may already be familiar with the emerging virtual reality headsets from Oculus Rift, Playstation VR, and HTC Vive VR. And you may know of augmented reality devices such as Google Glass and Microsoft’s upcoming Hololens project. An intriguing device that has been in the works, initially intended for industrial workers, called the DAQRI Smart Helmet, straps to one’s head and uses an interface that combines augmented and mixed reality. Data can be overlaid onto a visual heads-up display which presents the user with a real-time modified view of reality. Thermal vision can provide real-world temperature data onscreen. Work instructions can appear directly overtop an item that needs to be manipulated.

Potential educational applications of this kind of augmented reality technology could be realized in fields such as:

  • Medical - Overlay 3D models to aid during surgery
  • Arts - Visually alter paintings and sculptures
  • History - Map locations of famous landmarks and events while on a walking tour
  • Industrial Arts - Overlay design templates onto material to be fabricated
  • Marketing - Scan advertisements that reveal additional information
  • Outdoor Sciences - Overlay information pertaining to parts of trees, flowers, and plants
  • Almost Anything - A set of instructions can be presented through the visor to assist the wearer with almost any task imaginable

These are just a few of the many educational possibilities on the horizon for AR technologies. In the coming years, it will be exciting to see what rises to the forefront and what sort of gear we will all be strapping onto our heads.

1 comment:

  1. Virtual Reality has taken by storm the education field, and why wouldn’t it? It’s a great tool to engage students and its benefits are far more numerous than its shortcomings. Some popular uses of VR in educational topics include Biology, Geology, Architecture, Medical training, and many more.

    Virtual Reality Canada