Standalone Virtual Reality Headsets: Inside The Parallel World of Immersive Technologies

Standalone Virtual Reality Headsets: Inside The Parallel World of Immersive Technologies

The notion of existence of parallel worlds or universes has intrigued mankind for a long time and we keep trying to find a passageway into those mysterious worlds. While those efforts are still underway and have yet to see any success, we already have the virtual world in our access with increasing control through the use of immersive technologies like Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality or both, 

 

This virtual world gives us complete control in a simulated environment and lets us be more creative and experimental with what is possible. This ability to control, experiment, learn and apply, is transforming the classroom experience all around the world. There is nothing better to make a child become more focused and learn better than by transporting them to a wonder world. As of now, this is the impact that these immersive virtual experiences are having on young minds where the two worlds of imagination and knowledge meet together.

 

What’s more exciting is that the technical and hardware limitations are also being progressively overcome by premium tech companies such as HTC, and we are able to do more within these virtual environments without breaking contact with the outside world. Dr. Sana Farid, the ARVR & Ai Strategist and Co-founder & CEO of VRXOne, has been taking HTC VIVE to classrooms all over Middle East, and has talked about her experience saying, “We have found HTC to be a game-changing experience in VR education. It has been a great experience exploring the potential of experiential learning and bringing classroom lessons to life with VIVE and the highly immersive platform of Lifeliqe, and we are hoping that the VR education will become still more enhanced in future.” Making school lessons fun and exciting, Lifeliqe is a visual learning platform that offers an extensive range of digital curriculum including highly interactive 3D as well as AR, VR and MR models designed for STEM learning.

Going back to the hardware, HTC VIVE FOCUS, the world’s first standalone virtual reality headset, actually packs some great updates to that end including smartphone integration which enables us to receive calls, messages and even view social media notifications within the FOCUS VR interface without having to take off the headset. Additionally, we have more control via FOCUS with the inclusion of gesture recognition, greater Depth of Field (6DoF) and better battery life as well as the Passenger and Surroundings modes. The ‘Passengers’ mode lets us enjoy a seated VR experience without tracking constraints whereas ‘Surrounding’ mode lets us view our surrounding real world through the Focus camera which means we don’t have to remove the headset every time we need to do something outside of the virtual world.

Alvin Wang Graylin, the China President of Vive at HTC, certainly has a bright vision for the VR future, “Standalone is a trend that will become the mass market product”, adding further he said, “I believe that VR can change the world.”

Indeed, standalone devices will have a big impact on the VR market increasing the overall accessibility and usability of the technology. As per the Technovio’s Market Research Report the global virtual reality market in education sector is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 59% until 2022 whereas the VR gear in education market is expected to reach $1,060.87 million in 2021. These are huge statistics for VR market and we certainly can’t wait for VR technology to become mainstream in education.

Next Generation Standalone Device: Lenovo Mirage Solo – ‘No Strings Attached’

Next Generation Standalone Device: Lenovo Mirage Solo – ‘No Strings Attached’

Presented as a complete VR learning solution, Lenovo Mirage Solo™ is raising the bar by adding an aesthetic and intelligent appeal to the Virtual Reality technology.

 

So what gives this device an extra edge over the other VR products?

Well, its flair can be attributed to the utility and convenience it comes with.

 

The new model by Lenovo is a self-contained bundle that does not require connectivity with a PC or a mobile phone to work. It is a standalone device that uses Google’s powerful WorldSense™ technology which allows it to lean, dodge, duck, move, avoid obstacles, offering interactive virtual reality experiences. The headset device gives an incredible 110-degree field of view and is claimed to present an ‘evolved’ version of VR. The device comes with a Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage, quite smart on the specifications.

 

Besides the headset, the bundle comprises a Lenovo Tab 4 PLUS 10” tablet which gives autonomy to the teachers to maneuver the VR experiences to control the VR sessions in class. The wireless touchscreen helps them choose the expeditions and discuss the customized lessons.

 

Every component of the kit makes this Lenovo standalone device a next-generation wearable device.

 

The robust array of apps and games available in a smartphone (which can be strapped to a headgear) has built enough fascination for VR technology. However, the provision of these features in Mirage, without the need of a supporting device, makes VR more realistic. Especially for education!

 

The blended learning environment delivering content-rich experiences can find great use in the Middle East economy. The education capacity and enrollment are growing in the region, which is also emerging in the use of ARVR in the classroom.

 

The IDC (International Data Corporation) report expects the Middle East and Africa market for augmented and virtual reality is likely to grow to $6 billion by 2020. Heads of states, innovators, academic influencers, and passionate teachers are taking steps to highlight the importance of tech-based economy.

 

In the wake of the burgeoning curiosity and passion for technology, ARVR conferences, developers’ meet-ups, and awareness drives are being conducted.

 

VRXOne, the Google Expeditions Middle East partner, has also launched the acclaimed Immersive Learning for School program in the region, taking a giant leap into VR. Distinguished for its reach and impact, the awareness drive is the biggest and most significant VR education program in ME. The program entitles 1 million expeditions to students in the Middle East schools. This gives an opportunity for scores of school children and teachers to realize the impact of VR in pedagogy.

 

Besides Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality is another highly beneficial and prospective technology and VRXOne is spreading awareness in the region about the newly launched AR Expeditions by Google.

 

There is a horde of new interesting features that AR expeditions offer.

The first amazing feature is the ability to draw the attention of the class towards a point of observation. The teacher can use the ‘spotlight feature’ to highlight the part of the object that is to be seen by the students. This spotlight may be a pinpoint or a floodlight.

 

Another spectacular feature is the ability to resize objects. Since different classrooms have different available spaces, there should ideally be an option to change the size of the object under observation – and Google offers just that. The teacher can resize instantly and the change will be propagated to all the connected student devices.

 

The next highlight of expeditions AR is that users can put down up to eight different objects around the space and the object will stand right on top of those physical markers (marked with different colors). The kids can view the same object with the same point of reference. The physical markers are a good method of giving the students a common point of reference.

 

The Solo Mode in AR is similar to VR and allows the students to read the explanatory information. So while the teacher is not around and the mode is activated, a note will pop up on the device screen, allowing the students the autonomy to independently explore.

 

A beautiful new AI and the holistic fun content make both – VR and AR expeditions a win.

Munfarid and MEL Science Strike a Deal to Promote Immersive Learning in the Region

Munfarid and MEL Science Strike a Deal to Promote Immersive Learning in the Region

Famous for its biggest Virtual Reality program for schools in the Middle East, Munfarid formally announced the partnership between their Virtual Reality program VRXOne and MEL Science for immersive learning. 

VRXOne is an immersive educational platform that takes the users into an immersive world with near-realistic 3D environment and motion captured based physical interactivity. The program has been widely acclaimed for its usability and benefits & was also mentioned at the Google IO 2018. VRXOne is the official partner for Google Expeditions in the Middle East region.

MEL Science, an education service focused on immersive learning through VR and hands-on experiments, has created a package of chemistry VR lessons equipped with “teacher mode”, that allows school teachers to use VR lessons in the classroom. This feature allows them to guide a classroom of students through a VR chemistry lesson. Rather than use slides or a whiteboard, the teacher can illustrate concepts with an immersive VR experience that puts students in a virtual lab where they can zoom down to the atomic level, fly through the molecular makeup of chemicals and even build their own atoms or molecules.

The alliance is intended to enhance their individual efforts at getting kids to enjoy their lessons through interactive learning. VRXOne and MEL Science are aimed to use virtual reality for making visual science more accessible for kids from the Middle East schools. The comprehensive hardware and software program, VRXOne will be promoting the lessons made available to them by the latter. Noteworthy to mention, VRXOne has also been involved in spreading awareness about the benefits of interactive learning through its ongoing ‘Go-to School’ program where 1 million Google expeditions are being demonstrated to the students in the Middle East.

Efforts are on the go to engage students full throttle and help them bridge their learning gaps. Researches have proved that creating visual scenarios while teaching had increased benefits than those accruing from verbal learning. Explaining STEM phenomena through interactive lessons improves learning without requiring any extra teaching hours. It leads to completeness and coherence in learning where students while staying abreast of the developments in lessons, can understand better.

Interactive learning with the help of technology has also shown to yield better results. Learning with the help of innovative technologies like Virtual Reality captures the student attention while inhibiting the distractions at learning. It also improves retention rates since the students are practically a part of the environment where learning happens.

The collaboration between the two enterprises focussed on education will accentuate the improving education scene in the region.

Dr. Sana Farid, the Co-Founder of Munfarid and a leading ARVR trainer and researcher was delighted at the partnership.

She expressed her views mentioning, “The pedagogical shift by means of interactive technology and ‘learn by doing’ methods is imperative to growth of the Middle East economy and its human resource development. Through consistent efforts and more awareness, we can help students across the globe realize the true potential of education, in both – developed and developing countries.”

 

About MEL Science

MEL Science is a London-based company developing a unique approach to science education: combining hands-on experiments with virtual reality, to explain the science behind those experiments. The company’s first product, MEL Chemistry, is a chemistry set for kids as a subscription service. Every month, the subscribers get new chemistry sets to do fun experiments with kids at home. Experiments are accompanied by a mobile app that makes it possible to see chemistry in VR. MEL Chemistry VR lessons are designed to completely remove outside distractions and provide students with a fully focused learning environment.

MEL Chemistry VR media kit: http://bit.ly/2JddGGo

MEL Chemistry VR website: https://melscience.com/vr

 

About VRXOne

VRXOne is an international brand for virtual reality distributed in the Middle East exclusively by Munfarid. It’s a learning platform that uses Virtual Reality in education and training. VRXOne products offer unparalleled performance for content’s delivery and control. VRXOne provides devices and head mounts and accepts content in virtually any format and resolution compatible with Virtual Reality. Users can unite all their content on a single platform and play it as desired on their VRXOne Kits.

VRXOne media kit: http://bit.ly/2kqWXS2

VRXOne website: https://www.vrxone.com

Virtual Reality in Education: 50,000 Schools to learn through Google Expeditions in Pakistan

Virtual Reality in Education: 50,000 Schools to learn through Google Expeditions in Pakistan

Cinematic experience has never been the same again in Pakistan since the arrival of IMAX. The kind of immersive experience it provides adds tremendously to the viewing quality, excitement and entertainment. The good news is Pakistani classrooms will soon be transforming into much more engaging and immersive experiences enabled by Virtual Reality with Google Expeditions.

We have all heard the catchy phrase “When in doubt, travel!” The thing about traveling is that you learn more on an excursion than you do reading a dozen books on a topic. The reason being you are singularly focused, you are up for challenges and you are absorbing everything like a sponge. But as amazing as all that is, it is not always possible to travel especially when it comes to school trips what with limited budgets and feasibility of a tour. But all that can change if you don’t have to go on an excursion, but the excursion can come to you.

That is certainly possible with Virtual Reality. A multi-user, computer-generated environment, virtual reality enables learning through exploration of a world consisting of extremely realistic images and sounds – called virtual panoramas. The pre-programmed avatars or digital representatives of the user– in this case, the students – are able to freely roam these panoramas and interact with this virtual environment which is able to engage students fully and completely facilitating them to learn and understand optimally. These virtual interactions become particularly suitable in areas of study where concepts are difficult to elaborate like mathematics or where real experimentation and research can be risky, difficult or even impossible as in archeology.

Bringing the lessons to life for exploration in space, science, marine life, history, and art & design, specifically designed for K12 classes, Google Expeditions have particularly become popular among students, teachers and educationists around the globe for their hands-on and comprehensive nature that allows for easy incorporation within the school curriculum. What if we were to tell you that students could swim through the mysterious depths of the Mariana Trench exploring the unique marine life there or walk the massive expanse of Grand Canyon  or even the rocky surface of planet Mars just by donning a VR headgear without even ever leaving their classroom seats. Yes, it is as amazing as it sounds.

Since these virtual tours involve the use of sensory perception, it allows for the focus, learning and memory retention to significantly improve and enhance as VR enables students to “experience” the lecture. That is why VR in education is also termed as “experiential learning” or learn-by-doing. Based on Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience, the best and most effective kind of learning happens through direct, purposeful experiences, allowing for information retention level to reach up to a remarkable 90 percent. This is a massive improvement compared to only 40-50% information retention in a traditional classroom.  

It is immensely exciting for us as we look forward to experiencing this amazing technology in Pakistan as well and watch our classrooms transform from passive learning centers to incredible live and insightful environments. We can’t help but be enthusiastic about what new rounds of exploration and adventures will unfold within the confines of a traditional classroom as the world’s best program for VR in classroom learning is now headed our way with VRXOne.  

VRXOne is already taking hordes of students on these fascinating virtual tours in the Middle East and receiving immensely positive response along the way.

Virtual reality is already changing the way students learn and understand things around the world transforming forever the manner in which instruction and learning is perceived, delivered, acquired and shared as well as applied to real-life experiences. By changing classrooms from boring places into interesting engaging panoramas, hard-to-follow lectures to memorable experiences, lack of interest to curiosity and creativity, as well as transforming students from passive learners to active learners, virtual reality is a complete packaged solution for a befitting 21st century classroom.

Celebrating Ramadan with Google

Celebrating Ramadan with Google

The month of May has already been pretty happening in the Middle East with Future Tech Week (GISEC/ GEMEC/IoTx) taking place in Dubai and Bahrain-based VRXOne being highlighted in the recent Google I/O 2018. And now, as Ramadan is close at hand, there is more to come. Let us put it this way…

Got a Ramadan-related query? Don’t worry Google is bringing all Ramadan-related information literally to your fingertips during this holy month. That’s right. As Muslims around the world have been gearing up for fasting schedule in Ramadan, Google has had its own preparations. Or as Najeeb Jarrar, the Head of Consumer Marketing at Google for MENA region, puts it, “As more than a billion people prepare for Ramadan, we too at Google have been working to help our users as they begin to adapt to the month-long occasion. From augmented reality in Qibla Finder to virtual reality in Qalam, we brought Google’s innovation to your fingertips this Ramadan.”

No matter what it is you are looking for – local prayer times, popular Ramadan recipes or useful tips – all of this and related information is going to be accessible on the main search result page throughout the month-long Islamic event.

Not only that, Google has also revealed addition of new features as part of Ramadan services called Qibla Finder and Qalam. These new features are a product of Muslims’ digital habits over years during Ramadan as per the Google Trends data which signifies a greater interest in ‘Qibla and Ramadan Kareem’-related searches throughout the holy month. So let us look at what are these novel features.

One of the features is an update to the Qibla Finder web app, launched last year which makes use of Augmented Reality on Android devices to find Qibla direction – a very useful app for Muslims at the time of prayer as they carry on with their activities throughout the day. The update enables offline use of the feature as well as allows to place a shortcut to Qibla Finder app on the home screen of Android devices, in essence speeding up the entire process for greater convenience.

The new product however is to do with Ramadan and later, Eid greetings for users to share with friends and family. Called Qalam (Pen), this app is a hybrid of calligraphy and virtual reality. The app offers over 35 artworks created by nine of the world-famous artists and calligraphists including el Seed whose is known for “calligraffiti” in his designs which is a mix of calligraphy with graffiti; Tolga Girgin from Turkey whose work unites calligraphy with typography; Soraya Syed from Pakistan, specializing in bringing together modern technologies like holography with calligraphy – as well as Diaa Allam, Karima Sharabi, Lulwah Al Hamoud, Majid Al Yousuf and Rachel Joy Price.

We are excited to benefit from these features during Ramadan as we dig through Google Search Engine for our desired Islamic queries. Ramadan Kareem, everyone!

Immersive Learning – Creating A Nexus for Knowledge Based Economy

Immersive Learning – Creating A Nexus for Knowledge Based Economy

Change is probably one of the most powerful and inevitable phenomena in the world. Someone once said – teachers change the world one child at a time. This statement really sheds light on the influential role of teachers in the life of nations. But today, in this particular time, teachers have added responsibility beyond their traditional role as instructors, mentors, and resource providers. Today they also have to assume the role as leading facilitators for pioneering and affecting modern ed-tech practices and immersive learning in the classrooms.

 

In view of which, the Ministry of Education, UAE, is presenting various programmes across the year for teachers’ training in Ajman Teachers’ Training Institute, focusing on STREAM education approach and state-of-the-art learning facilitation practices in schools. The objective of such platforms is to instill a culture of innovation and a sense of entrepreneurship in the Emirati teachers in addition to promoting STREAM based education and community partnership.

Speakers and trainers would deliver invaluable exercises and discussions in practices and methodologies to boost research and creative competencies of teachers expanding upon their central role in preparing a generation that can nourish the growth and expanse of knowledge based economy in the Middle East by way laying the groundwork for integration of STREAM approach as well as linking STREAM schools with universities and ultimately labor markers.

 

Considered a key to sustainable leadership and innovative practices in a changing world, STREAM education is perceived as a crucial catalyst for accelerated socio-economic and ecological growth and development in the age of 4th industrial revolution. In that regard, the UAE teachers are exposed to exclusive opportunities to receive substantial training in implementing the ways to promote student learning, participation and entrepreneurial aptitudes through creative practices – from employing innovative STREAM education approaches to immersive ed-tech technologies in the classroom.

 

One of the highly acknowledged trainers in the Ministry of Education, UAE, coming from Bahrain, is Dr. Sana Farid, a pioneer ARVR & Ai Strategist, Research Analyst, Coach and Entrepreneur. Contributing to conduct training session in implementation of innovation and technology in learning practices in view of STREAM approach to education. Previously receiving the Award of Appreciation from the UAE Ministry of Education, in appreciation to train large scale of nearly 10,000 teachers for immersive technologies in the classroom, Dr. Sana is the President & Ambassador Women of Wearables MENA, Co-Chair VRAR Association MENA and one of the World Top 101 Women in ARVR.

Bearing in mind, how the training in STREAM approach and experience in immersive technologies is expected to raise a self-motivated and highly skilled generation for optimum attainment of a knowledge based economy, His Excellency Dr. Hussain Al Hammadi, the UAE for Minister of Education, commented, “To instill a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the students of primary education schools and to provide a specialized environment that embraces students’ initiatives in innovative aspects is one of the most important requirements of STREAM education.” [link] For this reason, the fourth session of the Forum was dedicated to encouraging and promoting practical applications driving the management of innovative practices and projects based on STREAM education which could then further attract the interest of local and international sponsors for forging relations, potential partnerships and accreditations within educational communities.