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Peter O'Shaughnessy

Web technologies and browser-based experiments

Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality for Education

Last night I presented at an education-themed Augmenting Reality meetup in London. I shared a few of the prototypes related to Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality that we have created here in the Future Technologies team at Pearson:

LangAR - AR talking phrasebook (2011)

Back in 2011, we were keen to explore Augmented Reality on mobile phones. The idea was to combine location-based AR with language content based on the type of location.


VirtualAssist - Leap Motion training tool (2013)

The theme of “natural user interfaces” is related, since it will inevitably become a big part of Virtual Reality. In 2013, we tried an early version of the Leap Motion and used it to create a quick prototype for medical students to practise arranging surgical tools on a tray. NB. At the time, it wasn’t possible to use ‘pinch’ or 'grab’ gestures.


FishFinder - VR for conflict solving (2014)

In early 2014, we developed our first prototype for the Oculus Rift. Taking inspiration from research suggesting that VR can be beneficial for treating psychological problems such as post-traumatic stress and phobias, we applied it to the problem of bullying in schools.


TRex VR - Web VR explorations (2014)

We also explored developing VR applications for the Web browser, using Web VR. We created a prototype for a “dinosaur park” where you can fly around and take a close look at a Tyrannosaurus Rex (mind his big teeth!), plus a mobile version using Google Cardboard.

See: (scroll down for the section on Web VR)

Interactive VR - natural interactions + VR (2014)

Our most recent VR prototype combined Oculus Rift with Leap Motion, to create a fire safety simulator. In a safe, virtual environment, you can use your hands to reach out and grab a fire extinguisher (make sure you pick the right one!) and aim it at the fire to extinguish it.


What next?

These prototypes were quick explorations, in order to learn more about the possibilities for these technologies and start exploring the potential for education. It is still very much the “early days”, but it is a particularly exciting time for AR right now, with devices like Magic Leap and HoloLens on the horizon. Soon, AR won’t be restricted to overlays on top of the real world, it will be seamlessly interleaved with the real world. Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are merging - and we believe that the potential for education will be huge.

To see what we develop in the future, keep an eye on our Prototypes page.

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