A couple of us attended the virtual reality showcase from EON Reality. They provide an impressive solution with a comprehensive package across a wide range of industries such as aviation, medical science and sport training. There were 2 demonstrations. The icube as in the above video, is a small room you step into with a pair of glasses and a gaming console. It was like standing beside a small jet engine and with the aid of the console, being able to point to different working systems to lift them out and move them around. The other demonstration was using 3D glasses in front of what looks like a purpose built screen and being able to point with a laser to different parts of an anatomical “slice” of skin and again being able to move the different parts and layers around. Same concept as the icube just not immersive.
With such an all encompassing package with a “we will do everything for you” attitude I always feel a bit suspicious where I tend to prefer approaches that help staff build literacies and skills. Having said that there were some hopeful signs. There are the possibilities of collaborations across different locations while working in collaborative spaces. As well some pre-built objects are available either for free or via licence, therefore not requiring rebuilding of the wheel.
I wonder about the applicability, or rather affordability for vocational education (VE). I can see this tool being used in aerospace or medical sciences as an out of the box or turn-key solution. However when I think of VE teachers they tend to need hands on solutions they can adapt on the side. VE teachers, more often than not employed as sessionals, need solutions that can save their time as well as improve their delivery, which is where low tech solutions will often work better. This is why Google tools such as Sites gain traction. I suspect with VE that solutions like the Occulus Rift and even Google cardboard are a better direction. With software tools like Unreal now available for free there is a lot that can be done with low investment and we have seen promising signs in the Design and Social context innovation incubator. I would be happy to be proven wrong and see EON adopted in VE and there are encouraging signs, such as the ability to import already created 3D objects as might be created in Unreal. I suspect it wouldn’t happen without a substantial investment from industry.
I hope EON were charged a fee to make these presentations on behalf of VE. Alas I suspect the opposite to be true.