About a century and more ago, a young man named George invented a device that captured the world, quite literally, in its awe. Kodak introduced photography to ordinary people in 1988. At its pinnacle time, about 70 percent of the American film market was locked up for Kodak. In 2012, the company declared its bankruptcy. Despite its history of multiple innovations and a jaw-dropping advertising strategy with the acclaimed tagline, ‘You press the button – we do the rest’, the fate of Kodak reinstates faith in ‘Recurring Innovation’.
Innovation manifests human development.
Dr. Sana Farid, who is a Virtual Reality strategist and also Middle East Women of Wearables Ambassador and President emphasizes the role of innovation and the never-ending need to evolve. She says, “When government and citizens join hands, catching the bus to an innovation-led future is easy. We must acknowledge the changes occurring around us and adapt for a sustainable tomorrow. A successful transition with time will take us ahead and keep us going.” Dr. Sana, who is an EdTech influencer and a progressive figure in the region’s tech space shared her thoughts on the occasion of UAE Innovation Month.
The UAE Innovation Month is brimming with agility and kicked off on February 1. The Emirates can anticipate to have a time filled with developmental activities, networking and audience engagement initiatives that highlight UAE’s commitment to enhance innovation. Under the empowering slogan of “Innovation Starts with You”, the government promotes a culture of innovation, providing a platform for nationwide demonstration of skills.
On the special edition of UAE Innovation Month, Dr. Sana received an overwhelming feedback at the Google Innovation Hub located in the UAE University. The Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Interior, H.E. Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan graced the launch event of the Innovation Hub, powered by Google. He was escorted by other Government ministers and representatives of Google. Dr. Sana, who was demonstrating the many uses of Virtual Reality in Education, was paid a visit by the Minister of Interior H.E. Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan who seemed deeply immersed in exploring Virtual Reality. Throughout the event, His Excellency was seen fondly enjoying the developments showcased, especially enjoying the company of young kids present at the Innovation Hub. The forward-thinking leadership of the country instills confidence and integrity in aspiring innovators.
Google Innovation Hub is a dynamic step to achieve an agenda enhancing the importance of digital creativity. The fair and innovative program inspires the youth to transmute their tech obsessions into successful businesses. The first of its kind center in the Middle East, the Hub can host up to 120 students daily to impart skills in 3D printing, laser cutting, machine learning, app development, robotics, etc.
With programs like these, countries can aim to achieve their long-term vision by focussing on the skills of their citizens. Dr. Sana’s emphasis on propelling innovation is in sync with the Middle East Vision 2030. Presence of this hub in the region is a progressive sign and an indication that there’s no stopping to high-tech development in the Middle East.
As the Virtual Reality continues to grow and emerge, the pool of VR tech companies and ventures continues to expand as well. The future potential of VR technology has opened up countless venues for the tech companies to identify and capture the market opportunities. However, at the moment, the VR hardware remains at the center of it all to give it a greater push in making it a commercially viable technology.
Among the giants,Homido is a well-respected, internationally recognized name in the field of Virtual Reality. Headquartered in Lille, North of France, Homido specializes in mobile app development, 3D cinema, product design, manufacturing and logistics. Homido offers cutting-edge VR headsets in three different categories called Homido V2, Homido Grab, Homido Mini.
Homido V2 andHomido GRAB are wireless VR headsets for smartphones (Android & iOS), with 100 degrees FOV (Field of View), a built-in action button that makes it possible to operate the smart phone without having to remove it from the viewer as well as a transparent front which makes them compatible for Augmented Reality Apps. V2 also features adjustable focal settings and a repositionable foam band that ensures optimal comfort and support for lengthy use. Grab is comparatively compact and lightweight, and a certified Google Cardboard.Homido Mini is an amazing little handy product – compact, affordable, adjustable and extremely convenient VR glasses that are ideal for experiencing VR anywhere, anytime.
Homido will be joiningVRXOne for takingGoogle Expeditions to schools in the Middle East region as well. In the UK, Homido has already been involved with Expeditions (link). Homido Grab headsets will be part of the Virtual Reality kits used for the program in the classrooms.
Moreover, fortunately for VR enthusiasts in the Middle East, they will now be able to enjoy these amazing VR gadgets as Homido products will very soon be available in the ME market. Spurred by governmental pursuit of green technologies as well as renewed corporate focus for innovation, the Middle East is one of the fastest growing and most promising region for Virtual Reality, in gaming, enterprise applications and, increasingly, in edu-tech as well. As per the regional sources, only the MENA computer gaming market accounts for almost US1.5bn, and is expected to keep growing at a rapid rate, attracting most of the revenues from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region. (link)
Top Virtual Reality Apps
Let us now look at some of the top VR apps, compatible with Google Cardboard, which can be explored for education purposes using Homido headsets.
Google Expeditions is a virtual reality teaching tool that lets you lead or join immersive virtual trips all over the world — get up close with historical landmarks, dive underwater with sharks, even visit outer space. Built for the classroom and small group use, Google Expeditions allows a teacher acting as a “guide” to lead classroom-sized groups of “explorers” through collections of 360° and 3D images while pointing out interesting sights along the way.
Unimersiv is one of the largest platforms for VR educational experiences. By downloading the app, you will have access to multiple experiences that will let you learn about history, space or the human anatomy.
The Discovery VR app has always been about driving curiosity – exploring new places, characters and ideas. With VR videos, Discovery embraces a new opportunity to tell these amazing stories immersing you in experiences like never before. We’re excited about what virtual reality will show us, and we’ll be adding new content regularly.
Virtual tours of landmarks from Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Morocco, Kuwait, Yemen, Macedonia, Holland, Belgium, France and Space. Examine the marvels of Islamic architecture, visit mosques, tombs, palaces of sultans, museums, inns, baths, castles, towers, old houses, squares, parks, nature, religious sites, ancient cities, space and other places with more than a thousand 360 degree panoramic images in high quality
InMind 2 is an adventure game which places emphasis on the chemistry behind human emotion, greatly inspired by the Pixar/Disney movie “Inside Out” and (more scientifically) Lövheim’s theory of emotions. You’ll take part in the process of one teenager named John becoming an adult, and help shape John’s future self, while experiencing an exciting journey inside the human brain.
An interactive way to teach your students about the solar system, Titans of Space provides an in-depth tour of planets and stars in the galaxy. With great music and entertaining visuals, it makes learning about the solar system much more exciting.
A unique and totally immersive learning experience, using Anatomyou is like taking a non-invasive trip inside the human body to learn more about its various systems (i.e. respiratory, digestive, circulatory and more).
As the start-up drive proliferates in the Middle East, government and citizens come together to magnify tech growth with an emphasis on community betterment.
The United Arab Emirates, in an attempt to shape the nation’s future, has shown a keen desire to instill creativity in youth. In the ongoing month of February, the country celebrates inventiveness with the organization of ‘UAE Innovation Month 2018’. The month is dedicated to the enterprising spirit of UAE’s visionary leadership. It is a manifestation of UAE’s plan to equip and nurture a culture of innovation. The program has seen hearty participation from citizens across the seven emirates where activities, programs, and conferences showing various innovations in UAE are being conducted in full swing.
Most prominent universities and schools are hosting innovation programs to prepare the students for real-world challenges. Education technology takes the center-stage everywhere given the massive potential and proven results. The purpose of investing in an Edtech Revolution is apparent. The aspiration is to raise an Emirati workforce that can enjoy good living standards through increased productivity and high-wage jobs.
In an initiative to hail inventive and creative thinkers, the Google Innovation Hub UAE was launched in the first week of February at the UAE University’s Science and Innovation Park. The first of its kind center in the Middle East can cater up to 120 students daily and train them for essential skills in 3D printing, Makers Space, laser cutting, machine learning, app development, robotics, etc. The Makers Space courses can be undertaken by students aged 8 to 16 whereas the Machine Learning and App Factory courses, comprising coding in virtual reality and lessons in robotics can be taken by students aged 16 to 24. The center for technological excellence is poised to steer innovation in education in UAE.
The prime focus of innovation hub is to amplify the progression of science and technology and equip the students with the best of Google resources. The tech hub is a venue for aspiring developers and tech enthusiasts to engage directly with companies and training partners like Google. Essential parts of the innovation center will be technology-related events, workshops, and coworking spaces.
The inauguration ceremony was graced by the Lt-Gen Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Interior UAE. His Excellency was escorted by other Government ministers and representatives of Google throughout the launch event. During the event, H.E. was seen interacting with the participants, also showing an avid interest in demonstrations, especially of the wearable technologies like Virtual Reality.
The Chairman of Al Bayt Mitwahid Association, Saif Ali Al Qubaisi was delighted at the inaugration of the hub, “I’m extremely proud that we’ve opened the Innovation Hub Powered by Google. It’s a state-of-the-art facility that will allow students to participate in valuable high-tech classes, which will benefit the next generation of talented minds here in the UAE.”
“Alongside UAE University (UAEU), the Abu Dhabi Department of Education (Adek) and Google, we aim to achieve the long-term vision for the UAE by developing the innovative and technological skills of the country’s people.”
Dr. Ali Rashid Al Nuaimi, Chairman of Adek, Chancellor of UAEU and member of the Executive Council shared a similar optimistic emotion, “This is an agenda that aims to enhance awareness of the importance of innovation and digital creativity.
“Artificial intelligence is the engine driving forward the Fourth Industrial Revolution; it encourages companies around the world to design innovative products by using artificial intelligence.”
Such initiatives and establishments are the templates for urban success. They drive us to believe that innovation is a work ethic and a way of life.
Transition to a knowledge-based economy is fortified by the establishment of these innovation centers focussing on STEM subjects. The drive also supports overall internet ecosystem in the country.
Elementary and middle school students gain immense confidence when receiving hands-on training. This fact has been emphasized enough by EdTech trainers and child psychologists. The observance of UAE Innovation Month cannot be accomplished without laying considerable focus on EdTech, which comprises many pro-student technologies.
With the UAE Innovation Month, the country aims to recognize innovation as an institutional culture that has a far-reaching effect on the society. The ongoing activities also seek to enhance the working curriculum in government departments and promoting the entrepreneurial spirit in Emiratis. A unified and progressive system where both the divisions work in symbiosis will exponentially increase the progress and development of the country.
When every Emirati is well-equipped during academic and working years, a global recognition and flowering of tech clusters will follow. A burgeoning economy requires the support of dynamic, forward-thinking citizens. Initiatives like the UAE Innovation Month show a clear intention of the government’s resolve to develop and the citizens’ desire to work hard and thrive.
It is the small steps towards innovation that make a nation and its citizens stand tall. Google Innovation Hub is a fair and innovative program that inspires the youth to transmute their tech obsessions into a successful business. Developed last year, the program is functional in the premises of the UAE University campus. Interestingly, this is one of the many endeavors undertaken by the UAE Government with focus on student well-being. With a special focus on STEM subjects and a “First-Rate Education” scheme to revamp education in curriculum & professional development, UAE gears to accomplish its Vision 2021.
Dr. Ali Al Nuaimi, Director General of Abu Dhabi Education Council and Chancellor of UAE University shared his perspective and aspirations about the Google Innovation Hub UAE.
“The excessive use of mobile devices by our children is clear, but is it the right kind of use? With this center we want it to become the right kind of use.
We are proud to have a platform that enables students to interact with the future technology, not only the existing one, and not only by learning at schools.”
Students in the age group 8-24 visit the innovation and development center to gain knowledge on building robots, developing Android apps, and more.
The Google translate and the search engine app Go Google are based on Machine Learning, one of the key tech trends that the innovation hub seeks to promote. The Maker Space section of the hub is to impart teaching of 3D printing, laser cutting, and robotics.
There’s a growing rage for Virtual Reality, to promote which, coding in virtual reality using Google Cardboard is taught in the App Factory. One of the fervent promoters of Virtual Reality (the choicest tech trend) Google brings Google Expeditions to the Middle East. In the preceding year, Google stroke a partnership deal to strengthen its hold in the MENA region, and to become a contributor to technological progress in the Gulf. VRXOne is the partner for Google Expedition in MENA. It is a program designed to transform education through convenient & innovative Virtual Reality solutions through rich, in-depth experiences.
As stated by Google, the innovation hub is a place for young innovators who must learn practical things in a fun and simple way. This grooms the future leaders for a competitive global market. With the same intent of encompassing critical thinking and practical abilities in students, VRXOne is transforming education in the region, one school at a time. It has initiated a ‘Go to School program’ aimed at demonstrating 1 million expeditions to students in the region.
Breaking the new ground, VRXOne showcases VR and demonstrates the benefits of field trips in the Google Innovation Hub, Dubai. The hub and the VRXOne program both emphasize on ‘methodical teaching by demonstration’. Schools who have already witnessed VR positively review the technology, claiming it to be highly immersive, engaging, and distraction-free. The technology that enables better retention levels is said to be the real investment for the future.
It is groundbreaking. Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, etc. are the 21st-century technologies safeguarding the frontiers of a bright future.
Middle East witnesses the allure of Virtual Reality with the ongoing ‘Go-To School’ Program. Under this program, more than a million students in the region will experience Virtual Reality Expeditions with the Google-poweredVRXOne.
VRXOne is a professional grade VR program that offers simulating experiences through complete immersion. Interestingly, VRXOne kit is the first ever Google partner for expeditions in the Middle East. The ‘Go-to School’ program initiated by VRXOne seeks to spread awareness about the effectiveness of VR field trips & their ability to improve engagement and knowledge retention. One of the leading names in VR in education, VRXOne is taking immersive learning to schools in Bahrain, UAE, and Saudi Arabia.
It has been time and again established that Virtual Reality enables the students to understand their lessons, especially science, history, and geography in a more comprehensive and fun way. It also generates in them a sense of responsibility by making them autonomous and free to explore. The students use their critical thinking abilities and problem-solving skills to draw conclusions and understand the results, rather than learning through rote methods.
Taking a giant leap from an era of video documentaries and static pictures, expeditions are allowing students to move around, realize their surroundings, and explore them from a learning perspective. The world of VR is entertaining. We get that validation every day from students we meet in different schools. The amusement and excitement they show towards field trips make us more optimistic about VR. It can transmute a simple classroom into a fun-filled & productive classroom where every student thrives. The program is receiving great response from kids, and their teachers who see a notable improvement in their students’ learning graph.
Besides enhancing student understanding, Google Expeditions also provide a simplified classroom control to teachers. Teachers can prepare their lessons with virtual lesson plans & review the web pages and student screens from a common dashboard.
The program is enroute to show 1 MILLION Virtual Reality expeditions to students in the Middle East. That is a grand target which is sure to have a far-fetched effect. Schools across GCC countries have given a warm feedback to the program; this proves that the aim of one million expeditions is convincingly achievable.
Teachers have acknowledged that students undergoing VR lessons are actively involved and experience impressionable learning moments. According to a Tech Giant Survey, 85% teachers affirm to the benefits of Virtual Reality in Education. Most of the teachers have agreed that it is a ground-breaking technology giving experimental opportunities to students who can discover their individual methods of improved learning.
Noteworthy to mention, VR expeditions were launched in the fall of 2015 in the year’sGoogle I/Oand have gained growing popularity with every passing year. Availing Google expeditions facility in classrooms is simple.