Virtual reality has grown immensely over the past few years, but 2016 looks like the most important year yet: it will be the first time that broader audiences will learn what virtual reality actually is. Some may not have ever heard of it; some may have only experienced it briefly perhaps in the form of Google Cardboard.
To get a sense of how quickly virtual reality is moving toward the mainstream, consider that in this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (Jan 2016), more than 40 exhibitors showed off their technology in a dedicated “Gaming and Virtual Reality Marketplace”. The host of the show, the Consumer Electronics Association, says this is a 77 percent increase on 2015.
So what is Virtual Reality?
In simple terms, virtual reality is an artificial environment that is created with software and presented to the user in such a way that the user suspends belief and accepts it as a real environment. VR is primarily used in the development of an imagined environment for a game or interactive story or the simulation of a real environment for training and education.
VR For Schools
A school in East London is using virtual reality as a way for pupils to learn about places like Buckingham Palace and the Taj Mahal without leaving their classroom!
Barclay Primary School in Leyton, is one of the first in the country to take part in virtual reality trials with Google. The software giant has developed an app that works in conjunction with its Cardboard technology. Google Expeditions is downloaded to a smartphone, which hooks up to the headset so pupils can see inside iconic places. The teacher then acts like a tour guide by highlighting points of interest on their corresponding tablet.
Field trips are not the only way in which virtual reality is being used in classrooms. Developers in the UK are working on a ‘smart T-shirt’ with printed code on it. When you hold your smartphone up to the shirt you can ‘see’ inside the human body through the handset’s screen. The 3D-animated experience, called Virtual-Tee, is designed to help teach people about anatomy. The project is currently looking for funding through Kickstarter.
In recent years, schools have been exploring a range of other types of technology as a way to help get children more engaged.
Even video games have become an educational tool – Minecraft, for example, is teaching pupils how to build and create in the virtual world.
VR for Mobile
Mobile VR will introduce many more to virtual reality this year with Google Cardboard already making an impact with the masses.
The Case-Mate Virtual Reality Viewer v2.0 lets you experience the best of Google Cardboard with the latest viewer design available. The VR viewer is certified to carry the “Works with Google Cardboard” badge, so it works seamlessly with most Android and iOS smartphones as well as all of your favourite Google Cardboard apps.
- New larger & enhanced 37mm bi-convex lens design enhances the VR experience
- Integrated conductive touch button allows for greater interaction with more immersive apps
- Assembles in just 3 easy steps, completely folding up in 10 seconds or less
- Compatible with most Android and iOS smartphones with screens sizes up to 6”
The iCandy 3D Virtual Reality Goggles work with numerous free and inexpensive apps, which are simply downloaded from GooglePlay and the App Store. Compatible with smartphones from 3.5 to 5.7 inch, the goggles come with a fully adjustable elastic headband and foam padding for maximum comfort. The adjustable lens ensures an optimum viewing experience.
The goggles are simple to use. Select your movie or chosen virtual content, put your smartphone into the rugged plastic enclosure and close. To ensure the best viewing experience adjust the lenses for your eyesight and then place on head strap.
- 360° head tracking & ultra-wide field vision
- Free downloadable content from the App and Play store
- Watch “Side by Side 3D” videos
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