23 June 2017

How VR makes learning more fun and effective: Technology Guide

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Virtual Reality training is being used to increase employee and business performance. Here, we help you make sense of the hardware and software options.

Virtual Reality is soon becoming mainstream in 2017 and 2018. Applications are broadening past gaming and entertainment. VR is starting to gain momentum for retail, healthcare, education and workplace training.

VR sounds like a good idea for workplace training but where do you start?

If you feel a tad overwhelmed, don’t worry as you’re not alone. Having too many options feeds decision paralysis. It’s so hard to pick one!

Well, I’ve done the legwork for you.

Since Velpic launched VR learning in March 2017, we have shared its potential with our customers. They then get a better idea of how to make staff and customer education more fun and more effective with VR.

Why conduct VR training?

With a 360 camera, you can record your office, worksite, building, or other locations. Share the footage to familiarise viewers with the venue before they even set foot onsite.

This enhances the tech-savviness and responsiveness of your brand for any purpose:

  • woo top talent with strong employer branding;
  • ensure safety compliance induction for new staff;
  • sell residential or commercial real estate;
  • promote hospitality services or sell tourist destinations;
  • orientate staff to new buildings before inspection is completed;
    and more.

How do you implement VR training?

Let’s start your VR learning journey with the technology that makes VR training very affordable, quick and easy. These are the key VR hardware options.

360 Camera. A camera capable of taking the full 360 degree-angles of your surroundings to create an immersive viewing experience in 3D, like you are really there.

Smartphone. Everyone has one, and mobile VR apps instantly make VR available to everyone, anytime anywhere.

Google Cardboard goggles. A low cost VR headset device literally made of cardboard, designed to hold a smartphone playing a VR app to create a VR experience.

That’s enough for most organisations to get started, and there are other fancy options as well that the rest of this blog shall reveal.

How do you build and view training content?

With 360 cameras, smartphones, VR content development software, and VR headsets.

360 CAMERAS


360fly camera

Using a 360 camera is an easy way to create real world VR content.

Samsung Gear 360 camera

It is essentially a digital camera with a fisheye lens attached to it to record a 360 degree video or picture. Some 360 cameras have two opposing lenses to give you a richer 360 image.

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Here are several examples of what a 360 video looks like, taking from different 360 cameras. 

As you can see, it’s pretty much like a panoramic picture but it’s warped in certain sections. It all displays correctly on a VR device as you turn to focus on different sections of the picture.

When the learner views it in a VR app, it‘s like they’re already there.

This type of image gives learners an immersive experience. They get to experience everything that's recorded when they look around the 360 image. This picture paints a thousand words for more effective multisensory learning experiences.

These exciting new immersive learning experiences are just a smartphone away.

VR-READY SMARTPHONES

Let me insert a special mention for VR-ready smartphones.

Since the first smartphones completely disrupted the mobile phone market in 2000, smartphone vendors have been relentless in releasing new models and upgrades every year.

While most smartphones can accommodate VR apps, there’s nothing like a VR-ready smartphone to raise the immersive experience to new heights. Several iOS smartphones have been VR-ready since iPhone 6, and Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+ is a favourite among Androids. Google’s Pixel XL is outstanding as well when paired with Google’s mid-range headset.

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VR CONTENT DEVELOPMENT SOFTWARE

Besides real world VR content, you can create 100% virtual graphical content with VR content development software.

Your learners can have awe-inspiring experiences in a fully immersive computer generated world. Here are examples of 360 videos made by organisations for training and education, and putting learners in realistic simulations.

Imagine an amazing video or computer game where you are a virtual astronaut walking on a virtual moon exploring and learning about the surface of the virtual moon. It can feel like that.

The powerful advantage of building content this way? You can pretty much create anything you can imagine. VR developers use specialised VR software like Unity and Unreal to make it happen.

What can you expect from VR development platforms?

  • This option requires powerful computers, specialised technical skill and knowledge, and takes a lot longer to build than Real world VR content.
  • The content is pretty much like a computer game that is allows you to experience a full 360 degree virtual experience only limited by the devices and platforms used.
  • You may be able to interact with elements of the virtual world through cool navigation methods like handheld consoles, voice commands and haptic gloves.

Whether you create VR content with 360 cameras or VR development platforms, they can be experienced through VR headsets.

VR HEADSETS

There are three main categories of VR headsets: low end, mid-range and high end.

Low end smartphone headsets include Google Cardboard or smartphone VR headsets:

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They are inexpensive and display content from VR apps on your smartphone. You watch VR content from your smartphone through two lenses mounted on the mobile headset.

Google invented a really affordable version made of cardboard and inspired many copycats. A smartphone headset made of cardboard costs about $5 to $15. They are widely available through online stores and retail outlets.

Mid-range smartphone headset providers like Samsung, Google, Mattel and Zeiss design theirs out of more hardy materials and often include straps and cases.

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  • They may cost from $30 to $150 dollars.
  • These often give you a better VR experience than cardboard ones because they block out more ambient light and sit better when you strap the devices on your head.
  • Some have inbuilt tracking pads or buttons that help you interact with the VR content.
  • Popular models include Samsung Gear VR and the Goggle Daydream View VR headsets.
  • Here’s a list of The 14 Best Budget VR Headsets for iOS and Android in 2017.

High-end VR headsets deliver the absolute best-quality VR experiences that smartphones cannot capture. 

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The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are the ones that get gamers and trainers alike the most excited.

  • These dedicated VR devices run off an external computer or game console.
  • They offer sophisticated features like motion tracking, high-resolution screens, and the best graphics possible.
  • They’re generally more comfortable and better at blocking outside light.

The fully immersive VR experience is hard to describe in words so if you spot an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive demo at a retail store or mall, jump at the chance to give it a go. You won’t be disappointed.

These devices are more expensive because they have in-built screens and usually come with handheld devices that allow you to interact with the VR content. But take heart, as the market develops, prices will shift.

High end headsets alone used to cost about $1,500, and that’s not adding another $3,000 or so for the powerful computer and other accessories you need to make it all run smoothly. Recently, Oculus reduced their starter bundle to sub $1,000 and prices can only get better as the market grows.

And there you have it, a quick technology guide to making learning more fun and effective with virtual reality.

If you would like to know what Velpic has done in the VR training space, we would love to hear from you. Or try us out for yourself.

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