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How XR can benefit learning

Humans are creatures of movement – we learn best by doing. When you repeat an action over and over it becomes deeply ingrained within us, what we term as ‘muscle memory’. It is by tapping into this intuitive way of learning that engaging XR experiences offer a vast amount of potential in developing new skills.

For instance, imagine you are learning to shoot a free throw in basketball with a VR experience. As you approach the free throw line, a hologram version of yourself takes the correct stance. This hologram would be programmed to animate through the movement of shooting the ball so that you merely had to mirror it’s own movement to shoot a perfect shot. Additionally, an expert could jump into the experience with you, offering words of wisdom to help you hit the perfect shot. Or alternatively an AI could analyse your technique and tell you what you are doing wrong.

This is just a basic example, but it is easy to see how XR training could be utilised in a wide range of industries. In fact, there are numerous benefits to using XR to enhance education, such as… 

Safely practice dangerous jobs

This one is pretty simple. By learning in a virtual environment with XR you eliminate any risk that could be associated with the task. For instance if you were learning to be a welder you wouldn’t need to worry about burning a hole in your hand or blinding yourself. New trainees would be particuarly benefited by this as they are generally more at risk of sustaining injuries due to their inexperience.

Practice uncommonly used skills

Completing a XR training experience would be highly beneficial when the skill is not used commonly. For instance if you are studying surgery, there would be relatively few chances to practice your surgery skills on a live human patient and in those circumstances you would surely be feeling a little nervous due to your lack of experience. Having a XR surgery experience (no, not Surgeon Simulator!) would allow surgery students the chance to practice a difficult surgery multiple times before doing the real surgery. This could also be beneficial for seasoned surgeons who want to brush up on a specific surgical operation before heading into the theatre, or for practising surgeries that are very rare. An example of how VR is currently being used in surgery:

Delocalised Training

With the power of the internet it would be entirely feasible for a teacher to guide a student through a VR, AR or MR experience from anywhere in the world. In an AR or MR experience, the teacher could get a live video feed of what the student is looking at and write notes or highlight objects of interest in real time. This would be a highly effective way of guiding a student through the process, even if you are in another country!

Cost Effective Learning Programs

Think about this: you could pay someone to train people in a skill on an ongoing basis, or you could get a XR app developed for a one time fee. This cost effectiveness would only scale up over time and with the quantity of people you need trained. XR learning programs are a great way for organisations to save time and money by freeing up their skilled employees to be working on other projects instead of training new talent.  

Greater Engagement

Being in VR is cool. Using AR is cool. Yes, we might be a little biased here but people are interested in XR. People generally like these experiences and learning in such an environment is sure to increase engagement amongst users. This would be especially pronounced amongst younger users – I know I would have loved a VR classroom experience in school!

As it stands, XR experiences are already beginning to be used in academic and professional settings due to a number of key benefits that allow it to enhance and improve traditional education and training. This is only the start, however, and within the next few years it is likely we will witness a large increase in the quantity and quality of XR learning experiences.

What is 360 media?

If you follow this page by now you are probably aware of 360 videos and 360 photographs, but what actually are they? What is a 360 video? How are 360 photos made? Can I make them myself? In this quick guide, we very briefly cover what exactly 360 media is, how it is made and how it can be used.

360 Media explained

Imagine you are looking at a regular photo or video. It has a clear edge and you can only see what the camera is focusing on. 360 media expands upon traditional photo/video by capturing everything in 360°. It also grants agency to the viewer by allowing them to look around and choose their own focus point. 360 media can be viewed on phones, tablets and computers as an interactive file, as exampled below if you click on the image. Alternatively 360 media can be viewed using a VR headset – a much more immersive experience that gives you a feeling of actually being present in the shot.

How is 360 media made?

360 cameras are used to create both 360 photos and 360 videos. There is currently a wide range of 360 cameras on the market. Towards the lower end you have products such as the Insta360 Air:

Insta360 Air

This can be attached to your phone and makes the entire process of capturing and sharing 360 media easy. However, it only has two lenses and the image quality will be a lot less when compared to the other side of the spectrum. This includes professional products such as the Insta360 Titan:

Insta360 Titan

While there are various camera designs with varying features (such as the number of cameras or the quality of captured footage) the common feature is that 360 cameras use multiple cameras to capture a scene in all directions – in 360° – hence the name. After capturing footage using a 360 camera the output is run through software to ‘stitch’ the various camera’s footage into one cohesive image or video.

360 photos can also be created with smartphones by utilising various apps, such as with the Facebook Mobile App or Google Street View. Additionally, some devices come with software ready to take a 360 photo such as:

  • Samsung Galaxy S5
  • Note 3
  • iPhone 4S
  • iPad Mini 2
  • iPad Air
  • iPad Pro

For these phones any newer models of these products will also come with the ability to take a 360 photo, which can be created with the Panorama shooting style.

Using 360 media

360 media has a wide range of uses and as it is a newly emerging media format applications are being found in a growing number of industries. The true potential of 360 media has not been recognised and as time progresses it is likely to be used in ever more creative ways to help promote ideas, organisations and individuals.

So if you do run a business, how could you actually use this technology right now? Well, let’s take an example. The travel and tourism industry is one of the first big early adopters of 360 media, so let’s say you run a business in the Whitsundays that offers diving tours of the Great Barrier Reef.

Firstly, you could have 360 Photographs taken of your store, boat and the reef locations you visit. These would make for excellent promotional material on your social media channels, website and Google Maps listing.

360 Video advertisement that takes people along for a dive and showcases your tour packages would look stunning and would surely go down a treat on social media. Perhaps something like this:

Using 360 photos or 360 videos, a Virtual Tour could be created that links various locations in your tour together. Virtual Tours are great for giving people a sample of what you offer, as well as offering additional information through points of interest pop ups or voice overs.

Hosting a 360 Live Stream on your preferred social media platform is an excellent way to engage directly with your fans, attract potential new customers and of course showcase off the beautiful reefs. You could even have viewer interaction by allowing viewers to dictate in which direction to explore the reef.

Finally, if you attended a trade show or other event you could have a VR booth set up. This would allow people an opportunity to put on a VR headset and experience a 360 video highlight reel, giving them a much more engaging experience when compared to traditional video as viewers feel more like they are actually present in the scenes captured.

So there you have it! Five ways 360 media could be incorporated into this example business. Most businesses can utilise at least one of these methods for promoting themselves and many can even use all five. At Virtual Dream we offer all these services so if you have any further questions either follow the web links above for more information or get into contact with us directly.

The future looks promising for 360 media and it will be fascinating to watch as the entire field of immersive technologies progresses. We hope you will join us in exploring this exciting new media format.

Quick Guide to Acronyms: VR, AR, MR & XR

VR, AR, MR and XR. You’ve probably heard of at least one of these acronyms used to describe emerging immserive technologies. Maybe you’re not sure exactly what constitutes VR, or maybe you’re wondering whats the difference between AR and MR? Worry not, for in this quick guide we will briefly cover definitions of the various types of immersive technologies.

VR: Virtual Reality

Immersing yourself in a virtual world.

Virtual Reality is the most well-known of the immersive technologies and by now most people have probably at least heard of it. Essentially, VR is a term used to describe experiences that are viewed by wearing a HMD (Head Mounted Display) such as an Oculus Go or HTC Vive. The aim of VR is to build a sense of presence, of making you believe you are actually somewhere else. Currently VR only engages our sense of sight and sound, but in the future this will evolve to incorporate our other senses to heighten immersion. VR experiences can be either computer generated or can use 360 media (what is 360 media?) of the real world.

AR: Augmented Reality

Adding a layer of digital information to the real world.

Also sometimes referred to as Altered Reality. AR is when a device is used to view the real world, but with an added overlay of graphics/text. The key here is that AR keeps you in the real world, but adds more information to it. While currently it is a smaller market compared to VR, many experts believe it will actually grow quickly to become even bigger than Virtual Reality.

MR: Mixed Reality

Combining the real and virtual worlds together in a way that allows interaction.

Also sometimes called Hybrid Reality. There is a lot of confusion between what the difference between AR and MR is, with the terms often being used interchangeably. The key feature that distinguishes MR from AR is that in MR the physical and digital content can influence and interact with each other. In AR the digital content cannot influence the real world.

XR: Extended Reality

XR is a catch all term to describe all immersive technology experiences: VR, AR and MR. This acronym was coined mainly to make it simpler to quickly refer to this content.

Well there you have it! As XR continues to advance and become integrated more into our society, it will become more important to be able to correctly identify the various types of XR as each is very different in what it is capable of. Hopefully this guide was useful in briefly informing you of the various immersive technology experiences.

The Virtual Future

Perhaps you have seen the video “HYPER-REALITY” by the incredibly talented Keiichi Matsuda. If you have not I highly recommend checking it out below. Keiichi’s description of the piece is as follows: “Hyper-Reality presents a provocative and kaleidoscopic new vision of the future, where physical and virtual realities have merged, and the city is saturated in media.” It depicts a dystopian world, where the virtual world i by corporations to infiltrate into everyday life to an unsettling degree.

Most can agree that this paints a bleak future for this technology, but it doesn’t have to work this way. In fact, several of the features displayed in HYPER-REALITY would actually be incredibly useful, as long as the ads could be toned down (or removed completely – one must wonder why she doesn’t install an adblocker with that much clutter in her way). For example, having a GoogleMaps like direction system that gave you pop up directions would be very handy. A shopping list that remained in your field of vision while in the shops would certainly be an improvement on constantly checking your phone. The following video displays what would be a neat & helpful unobtrusive feature to compliment menus:

There are lots of ways immersive technologies like VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) are emerging as tools for humanity that show great promise (wondering what’s the difference between VR & AR? Click here). Like all scientific advancements, however, it can be utilised for great good, or great evil. This technology promises to both fundamentally redefine how we see, think and interact with the world around us, and to help us connect with the people within it. It offers us means to help solve some of the human races growing problems and will even cause us to question the very nature of reality or what it means for something to be ‘real’.

Our first blog post from Virtual Dream is going to take a look at how immersive technologies are already beginning to have an impact on the world, as well as take a look at where this is all heading.

Welcome to the Virtual Future.

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