How to improve virtual education


What Are MOOCs Good For?

A few years ago, the most enthusiastic advocates of MOOCs believed that these “massive open online courses” stood poised to overturn the century-old model of higher education. Their interactive technology promised to deliver top-tier teaching from institutions like Harvard, Stanford, and MIT, not just to a few hundred students in a lecture hall on ivy-draped campuses, but free via the Internet to thousands or even millions around the world. At long last, there appeared to be a solution to the problem of “scaling up” higher education: if it were delivered more efficiently, the relentless cost increases might finally be rolled back. Some wondered whether MOOCs would merely transform the existing system or blow it up entirely. Computer scientist Sebastian Thrun, cofounder of the MOOC provider Udacity, predicted that in 50 years, 10 institutions would be responsible for delivering higher education. ….[READ]

How to find youself in a totally different body


Virtual bodyswapping diminishes people’s negative biases about others

What if you could, for a moment, have the body of someone of a different race, age, or sex? Would that change the way you feel about yourself or the way that you stereotype different social groups? In a paper publishing online December 15 in the Cell Press journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences, researchers explain how they have used the brain’s ability to bring together information from different senses to make white people feel that they were inhabiting black bodies and adults feel like they had children’s bodies. The results of such virtual bodyswapping experiments are remarkable and have important implications for approaching phenomena such as race and gender discrimination. ….[READ]

How VR headsets can to enhance student learning experiences


Virtual Reality

The growing number of virtual reality headsets and various price points ($20-$350) should see schools exploring the use of virtual realities to enhance student learning experiences. Not only are virtual reality experiences engaging and entertaining, but they have the power to transform e-learning into i-learning as statistics show that people retain 10% of what they read, 50% of what they hear, and 90% of what they do. VR Head-Mounted Displays: Two Approaches. Virtual reality head-mounted displays (VR HMDs) are available in two formats: A VR HMD connected to a PC (most powerful and most expensive). A plastic or cardboard headset that holds a regular smartphone running a VR app (cheapest). Browse the content below to find the desired VR hardware solution. ….[READ]

Is the right time for VR?


Could virtual reality become a mass media?

The potential of virtual reality is topical. The acquisition of VR startup Oculus Rift by Facebook earlier this year for $2 billion has driven speculation on the possible impact of this technology. One question is pertinent: how likely is it that VR will become a mass media (rather than a niche form, restricted to gaming activities) alongside existing, traditional forms? In order to answer this, it can be helpful to consider the existing mass media, in chronological order of the mass adoption of each: Print (books, pamphlets, newspapers, magazines, etc) from the late 1400s. Recordings (records, tapes, cassettes, cartridges, CDs, DVDs) from the late 1800s. Cinema from about 1900. Radio from about 1910. Television from about 1950. Internet from about 1990. Mobile telephony/computing from about 2000 (also tablet computing from 2010). What can be learned from this progression? ….[READ]

How to relive memories with virtual reality

Short Film “Memories 2.0″ Envisions Reliving the Past Through Virtual Reality

One of the hard truths of human existence is that though we are able to move freely through space, we are mercilessly constrained by time. Each moment of life arrives then rapidly passes, seemingly lost forever. In an attempt to capture information from these moments as they flow past, our brains record memories, but they are limited by what is perceived and stored on a device that is organic and fragile. Drawing on concepts of technology, memory, and lost relationships explored in others films such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the short film Memories 2.0 explores the use of virtual reality to recapture moments of love lost forever. …[READ]

Immersive music experience

3 more singers go virtual

I may have been premature when I announced that immersive movies were the killer app for virtual reality. What was I thinking? Who wants to spend two hours in a bulky headset? Obviously, the killer app for virtual reality is going to be music videos. The length of a song is just about the right amount of time for an easy introduction to VR, and after you’ve watched it, you can pass it around to all your friends. Plus, music videos typically require minimal interactivity — you sit there and you watch, and maybe move your head around. That’s perfect for the processing capacity of a typical smartphone. And I’m not the only one who thinks this way. Jack White just launched his “Third-D” virtual reality app for anyone with an Android phone and $10 to $20 to spend on a Google Cardboard frame. ….[READ]

Eyes make the difference

Disney’s Exquisite Digital Eyes Bring Avatars to Life

When you meet someone, where does your gaze first fall? Usually, you’ll find you look for their eyes. And maybe this is partly why some digital characters can seem alien—their eyes are approximations of the real thing, and our brain revolts. To make photorealistic digital characters, even minute details matter. But until recent years, we didn’t have the technology to take in every detail. Or rather, the required cost and time were too much to warrant the investment. However, due to advanced scanning and modeling software and powerful computers, that’s changing, and digital characters are progressively exiting the uncanny valley. As you might expect. The entertainment industry has the greatest incentive to advance digital characters. A recent Disney research project, for example, is modeling the eye with extremely high fidelity. …[READ]