Designing the EdTech future in Virtual Reality

Updated: Mar 10, 2019

Captured by Harshita Oruganti

Time races in the world of Virtual reality with experiences building into action, emotion and exhilaration; catering not just to the vision and the sound— but each creating a memory that's very unique in its own way. Virtual Reality stands out as a safe place to experiment with structured and unsupervised social behavior. The medium forges an emotional connection creating a sense of presence; a perceptive presence and today’s competing VR creators are striving to provide a sustainable presence.

Alex Stolyarik’s talk was filled with illuminating details of the world of Virtual reality— from a very comprehensive analysis from the failures in the 80s to our current ecosystem within VR world. The audience loved watching Alex’s talk and the VR demo, and Silicon Valley design thinking club wishes him the best with his future pursuits!

Here’s some of the highlights captured in Alex’s talk:

VR Headsets - Barriers to entry

The hard core reality of VR headsets comes with inside-out tracking and outside in tracking. Outside in tracking has been popular; though a combination might break barriers unforeseen. The barriers to entry into this industry have been high, from makers striving to cut the cord and let go of the ties to reality. Though 3 degrees of freedom (DoF) has been the norm for mobile devices in the industry, emerging technology promises 6 DoF on head-mounted display, that is just around the corner, to take the market forward. The arrival of the inside-out tracking systems to market is another step to increase presence and bring the 6 degrees of freedom to the mass market. The push towards 5G and NB-IOT holds quite a promise for machine to machine communications that can take VR to the next level reducing latency and streaming high resolution. New VR headset prototypes with expanded Field of View from China show great promise as well.

The delight called “SocialVR”

The world of Social VR comes with a lot of interest, and has the potential of creating a shift in the world towards increased communication with presence. The ease of participation could and comes from rigging your own avatar from scratch or by purchasing a recognizable avatar on the go! Social VR is becoming to be one of the plug-and-play solutions for those seeking volumetric social interactions with others. Modern platforms allow for up to a 1000 people hosting, but with much noise yet.

The challenge of tracking,

It all depends on the ability to track! Tracking uses a depth map to allow for freedom of movement— latency, affordability and scalability have been the major touch points in social VR. The challenges with tracking blow in proportion of implementation options from magnetic, acoustic, inertial to the most widely used optical tracking. How many points do we track for accurate and realistic representation? For today’s norm of 3-point tracking - head, 2 hands, with legs rigged. There are several companies that offer 6-point tracking with controllers attached to legs, allowing for precise accuracy.

Presence is manageable at arms length, its time to make it useful with impact!

While we’re heading into Industry Standardization with Open XR unifying controller capability and faster and easier access with new standards; we’re also going to witness an industry consolidation with players like Magic Leap, Improbable, Unity and Niantic raising more and more capital in additional VR rounds, there is no iota of doubt that the idea of consolidation is on the move. We’re seeing what’s a “call for content” as the chicken and egg problem resurfaces. What’s a VR hardware without content; and what’s content without the VR hardware technology?

Alex’s demo creates a baseline for a thought that VR could be a game changer to deliver quality education for the learners, to the learners and by the learners. Will we see an adoption trend as we saw with Youtube? Only time will tell!

There is interesting data about what people generally remember

• 10% of what they READ

• 20% of what they HEAR

• 30% of what they SEE

• 90% of what they DO.”

— Edgar Dale, an American educator.

So, VR makes doing possible with presence and at scale - its main point of attraction for the market of EdTech!