New Ways to Learn Through Virtual Reality

New Ways to Learn Through Virtual Reality (4 Possibilities From My First VR Conference)

Last week I attended Canada’s biggest Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Conference, CVR 2017.

(I’m in the learning world and was curious where it fits into VR/AR.)

To say the conference inspired me would be somewhat of an understatement.

In fact, even though the conference leaned towards the consumer end of the spectrum, I learned VR’s applications go beyond (way beyond) gaming…

…Experts from Boeing, Ford, Delta Airlines, and NASA all shed light on their virtual reality use cases. And, Heidi Buck, from The Office of Naval Research-sponsored Battlespace Exploitation of Mixed Reality (BEMR lab), was also a speaker.

And, I learned where my unique strengths fit.

Now, since I’m just warming up to VR, I won’t get too specific, just yet.

However, I am experiencing that nervous excitement that comes over you as you realize endless possibilities. And so, my friend, here are four possibilities that got my brain percolating:

Possibility #1: Get spatially connected with AR (Augmented Reality)

Being able to see the spatial relationships between different things wires into how our human brains already work, in the real world. In this way, AR gives you a higher level understanding than anything you are forced to abstract from something you see on a flat computer screen.

Few examples:

Possibility #2: VR can address limitations of your system (and training process.)

NASA’s Lead VR Innovator, Evelyn Miralles, was the keynote speaker. And, Evelyn said that prior to virtual reality (in the 80’s), NASA relied on complex mockups to represent an activity. And, any configuration, or anything that they were going to do cost a lot of money (and was prone to be inefficient or break down.) Every training simulation was done mechanically.

NASA’s VR solution today:

NASA's Evelyn Miralles at the Consumer Virtual Reality Conference in Vancouver.
NASA’s Lead VR Innovator, Evelyn Miralles, explains the vital importance of VR onboard training. This is for astronauts who need a spacewalk refresher. Because of the length of time between spacewalks.

Possibility #3: VR as the ultimate empathy machine.

How will we relate to each other, when we can walk a mile in another person’s shoes? BeAnotherLab is a small team focused on experiential demos that promote empathy, tolerance, and self-understanding by showing you the world from another person’s perspective.

Tom Emrick at Consumer Virtual Reality Conference in Vancouver
Tom Emrich, a partner at Super Ventures, and a leading voice in wearable technology shared his vision of a future where we augment the human experience.

An application that came to my mind: Virtual Reality, used to promote empathy, can improve health outcomes for migrants and refugees. (I helped an Australian nonprofit create an interactive training module called, Introduction to Cultural Competence, which helps organizations be culturally responsive to diverse clients.)

Possibility #4: Virtual reality streamlines product development.

You can’t make a car at Ford Motor Company without doing the immersive review. Their product development process includes an immersive virtual reality environment, “FIVE”, (Ford Immersive Vehicle Environment).

In conclusion

What should you conclude from these four possibilities? Give up? Consumers and industry professionals will be shown the virtual reality door sooner than you think.

“I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.”
— Morpheus, The Matrix

Me? I’m walking through it…

That’s me, experiencing Opaque Space’s Earthlight, a virtual reality game that immerses players in the journey of becoming an astronaut. There is no going back from this.

Now, two questions and one ask:

  1. Do you work with virtual reality or augmented reality? If so, share one lesson learned in the comments. Or, overall, what did you think?
  2. If you haven’t worked with virtual reality yet, what about it are you excited (or concerned) about?

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