By Dr Glen O’Grady, Frederick Chew and Craig Gall, Australian National University
“What is it like to walk in someone else’s shoes? Books allow us to imagine it, and movies allow us to see it, but VR is the first medium that actually allows us to experience it.” NICK MOKEY, “We Have Virtual Reality. What’s Next Is Straight Out Of The Matrix”, Digital Trends, December 19, 2016
Welcome to this Coffee Course in which we will explore Virtual Reality (VR) and how it can be used and the possibilities of VR use within the educational context. Today we will be introducing VR and its origins and then we will be exploring VR in more detail throughout the rest of the week.
You may have heard of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), you may be less familiar with Mixed Reality (MR). All these terms refer to human-computer interfaces that have benefited from recent advancement in display technology, but what exactly are they and how are they different from each other?
A simple explanation of the differences between the technologies are:
- VR – Replaces the real world with a virtual world
- AR – Supplements the real world with virtual objects and information
- MR – seamlessly incorporates virtual objects to the real world.
If you find yourself still confused about the differences, you can find more detail explanation in the following website: VR? AR? MR? Sorry, I’m confused.
Early 2016 saw the release of the first commercially available high-end VR headsets, the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, with Sony following up with the more affordable PSVR, for use with its PlayStation 4 platform, in October 2016. With these recent technical leaps and the release of motion tracked Head Mounted Displays (HMD), these technologies have seen a large increase in media exposure and dedicated pages for VR news – RoadtoVR, VRscout, Wareable, and many more. This however is not the first-time VR has tried to enter the mass market, with the first commercial VR headsets being released in the 90’s to a very poor reception by consumers.
The following short video gives a quick overview of the history of VR.
The video closes with the question “do you want VR in your life?” We and many others think there may be little choice in this, and much like smartphones, VR will begin to impact various aspect of our day-to-day life. No one could have predicted when the first smartphone was released that it would go on to impact our lives so heavily. From social interactions, e-commerce and exercise to navigation, photography and gaming, most people now rely on smartphones for some aspect of there life. Some examples of how great an impact smartphone technology has had on an industry are; Uber, which has had a global impact on the public transportation industry; Instagram, which has changed how we take, store and share photographs, making photo printing labs near obsolete.
One of the key factors for VR to become ubiquitous is its adoption across multiple industries and large amounts of investment. Just under a year after the Oculus Rifts release Oculus was purchased by Facebook for the princely sum of 2 billion US dollars (AUD 2.6bn) Mark Zuckerberg later reported the final figure was more like USD$3bn. Digi-Capital reported on the forming of the Virtual Reality Venture Capital Alliance back in July 2016 “the VR Venture Capital Alliance was set up in the second quarter with 30 VC firms and over $10 billion [USD$18bn as of July 2017] in deployable capital.” So the future is looking bright for those invested in exploring virtual reality technologies.
To get your imagination going below is a breakdown of the 2017 VR industry landscape from The Venture Reality Fund, an Early-Stage VR investment group.
Today we have briefly covered what VR is, its history and current areas being developed.Please post your responses in the forum and discuss with each other.
- Do you think VR will have an impact on your life?
- Could VR affect the way we teach and learn in the classroom?
- What other uses can you see in VRs future?
If you want to know more about VR CNET have a page dedicated to the basics of VR.
Education is always listed as one of the top expected uses for VR in the future. In the following sessions we will take a closer look at the affordances of VR and explore how this can be applicable to teaching. Over the next four days we will cover:
- What constitutes a VR Experience?
- How do we experience VR?
- What are the effects of VR on Body and Mind?
- VR in education now, and the future of VR
- face-to-face VR experience
Vince, J. (2004). Introduction to virtual reality. Springer Science & Business Media.
Giraldi, G. A., Silva, R., & Oliveira, J. C. (2003). Introduction to virtual reality. LNCC Research Report, 6. http://www.lncc.br/~jauvane/papers/RelatorioTecnicoLNCC-0603.pdf
Heilig, M. L. (1960). U.S. Patent 2,955,156. “Stereoscopic-television apparatus for individual use.”