Which VR headset is perfect for education?
Education has moved on from pencils, pens and paper – and onto the virtual age with interactive whiteboards and tablets.
Furthering the frontier of technology in education is Virtual Reality, a computer-generated simulation of a 3D environment that can be interacted with in a physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, ordinarily goggles.
Virtual Reality can transport your students to other ends of the planet, and even into the outer universe – without ever leaving the classroom. Innovations within Virtual Reality has reduced the costs of the technology and made it more easily accessible to a wider audience. This, as well as the immense possibilities it holds, makes Virtual Reality the perfect teaching tool – but which headset is perfect for YOUR classroom?
Here at ITR we have investigated some of the leading Virtual Reality solutions on the market right now to help you decide:
The Oculus Rift is a virtual reality headset developed and manufactured by Oculus VR, a division of Facebook Inc. The Rift has a Pentile OLED display, 1080×1200resolution per eye, a 90 Hz refresh rate, and 110-degree field of view to enhance immersion.
It boasts integrated headphones which provide a 3D audio effect, rotational and positional tracking to avoid collisions and injuries.
It is completely wireless, so users can be fully engaged in virtual worlds without being tethered to a computer – you can take your learning outside of the classroom!
The sensor normally sits on the user’s desk. This creates 3D space, allowing for the user to use the Rift while sitting, standing, or walking around the same room – this is perfect for a small classroom, as the Rift is incredibly compact.
The HTC Vive is a virtual reality headset developed by HTC and Valve Corporation.
The headset uses room scale tracking technology, allowing the user to move in 3D space and use motion-tracked handheld controllers to interact with the environment.
The Vive has a refresh rate of 90 Hz. The device uses two screens, one per eye, each having a display resolution of 1080×1200.
The device uses more than 70 infrared sensors and like the Rift, it has 110-degree field of view. A lens distance knob moves the Vive lenses further and closer to your face – perfect for students who wear glasses.
Adjustable velcro straps and thick foam padding allow for personalization and comfort, for any head. The Vive even includes EXTRA velcro and foam for further customization making The Vive suitable for all ages and sizes.
The front-facing camera allows the software to identify any moving or static objects in a room; this functionality can be used as part of a Chaperone safety system, which will automatically display a feed from the camera to the user to safely guide users from obstacles.
Samsung Gear VR
Released in 2015, The Samsung Gear VR is a mobile virtual reality headset developed by Samsung Electronics, in collaboration with Oculus, and manufactured by Samsung.
When in use, a compatible Samsung Galaxy device acts as the headset’s display and processor, while the Gear VR unit itself acts as the controller, which contains the field of view, as well as a custom inertial measurement unit, or IMU, for rotational tracking, which connects to the smartphone via micro-USB.
The need for a Samsung Galaxy device can make this headset limiting – but what it lacks in freedom of device it makes up for with its easy-to-use instructions.
On your first load, software is automatically downloaded and you are then walked through how to use the device. The Gear VR headset also includes a touchpad and back button on the side, as well as a proximity sensor to detect when the headset is on to aid its easy use.
On top of this, the Gear VR also boasts additional built-in motion sensors, for better responsiveness and lower lag as well as handy voice-recognition – perfect for a teacher delivering a lesson to guide the VR experience.
Google Cardboard is a virtual reality platform developed by Google for use with a head mount for any smartphone.
The Cardboard software development kit (SDK) is available for BOTH Android and iOS operating systems. The SDK’s VR View allows developers to embed VR content on the web as well as in their mobile apps.
Named for its fold-out cardboard viewer, the platform is intended as a low-cost system to encourage interest and development in VR applications – and it has proved immensely popular.
Users can either build their own viewer from simple, low-cost components using specifications published by Google or purchase a pre-manufactured one.
This could make the perfect classroom activity – students can not only use the headset, but they can also make it! Google provides extra recommendations for large-scale manufacturing, and pre-assembled kits based on these plans – the low-budget components are far from limiting.
To use the platform, users run Cardboard-compatible applications on their phone, place the phone into the back of the viewer, and view content through the lenses.
It comes with an NFC chip that will automatically launch your official Cardboard app when you place your phone into the headset. There’s also a brief and easy-to-understand tutorial demo that shows you briefly how to use it.