VR, AR, and Mixed Reality in Education and Training

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vr headset goggles
Photo by Lucrezia Carnelos on Unsplash

At Holon Studios, we’re looking at how society will interact with technology in the immediate future, and what we can do to help. And some of the best clues for where we’re going as a society come from our distant past. This month, we’re discussing how Altered Reality technology– Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality– can be used to make education and training better, safer, and more comprehensive than ever before.

It’s interesting to note that the very first video games weren’t actually video games. Long before Atari and Pong, there were flight simulators. They were originally just aircraft shells balanced for motion, false cockpits that instructors used to ensure that pilots knew the correct procedures for the million possible variables that can come up in a flight. Back in 1954, the first machines offering motion and visuals became available.

 airplane cockpit

The technology that powers some of the most realistic video games also has practical uses in educational efforts. The three next steps in gaming– Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality– will not only be used to delight us with entertainment and challenges, but will be utilized to help train us in our workforce situations. Some are already in place… some are still on the way.

Virtual Reality is the one most people know: it’s a step into another world. Movement is done not with our feet, but strictly within the confines of the virtual environment, as glasses are often used to block out reality in favor of the virtual world.  VR can allow a learner to be in an environment that would be too dangerous or too delicate to allow them to actually work in without special preparation and experience.

Flight simulators were only the start of VR. The millions of dollars it once took to once map out a mountain range and simulate the effects of an airplane flight can be achieved economically, so people have begun moving it to follow everyday workspaces, to give employees a safe situation to get ‘hands-on’ experience with jobs that require stringent safety measures. Now, virtual reality is not just a video game feature, it’s also how doctors can explore the small details of an MRI scan and hone in on potential ailments.

Augmented Reality became popular a few years back with video games such as Pokemon Go!, where players would use their phone’s camera to find computer-animated Pokemon creatures in their everyday world. Furniture store IKEA utilizes augmented reality to allow shoppers to see what a particular item would look like placed in their home.

AR can place tasks and dangers in our way to teach us how they can be overcome. This kind of technology can allow a business to have workers in their standard setting, and throw computer-animated conditions at them to overcome, to see how they will respond to the challenges. This can be a good way to navigate potentially upsetting social interactions with each other.

Mixed Reality is when holograms or special glasses are used to put a three-dimensional object into our world that we can interact with. The object has no mass or substance, but the computer recognizes the motion of our hands and allows us to treat it as a real object in our living, real space. An excellent example of this technology is on display in the Marvel Superheroes movies, with inventor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) working on his own brand of MR technology to create his Iron Man armor.

mixed reality

But it should be noted, this technology– which seems a very  long way off– is actually already here. Virtual keyboards have been purchasable for a few years. Elon Musk of TESLA is working on hologram technology just like the kind in the Marvel films. By utilizing the overlay concept of Augmented Reality and applying it to glasses, and teaching the computer to understand spatial relations and depth to guide where we place our hands, very soon– and cost-effectively– we will be able to do things as complex as going inside the workings of an automobile to discover where parts are failing, and soon, even the human body will be something we can virtually dissect and restore. We will do all of this with three-dimensional representations, projected onto our glasses, that we can seemingly affect and alter in our own spaces.

Think about your own work environment; what if training could be designed to be as real as possible, but kept away from client work and potential dangers, so that new employees could train safely to learn their role? Which Altered Reality would your own profession train new workers under, safely and thoroughly? We;’re interested in your ideas at Holon, because that’s where we’re directing this technology: to ensure safer education and training.

Finding interesting new applications for emerging technology is our focus at Holon Studios… if you would like to learn more about what it is we do, or to apply for a job role, or if you would like to become an investor, we would love to hear from you. Please contact marketing@holonstudios.com with your inquiry, and we’ll get back to you shortly!