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When you hear terms like augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR), what comes to mind? Perhaps you think of Google Glass, PlayStation VR, HTC Vive, or Microsoft’s HoloLens.
These headsets mix the latest optical and digital technologies to create an artificial world in front of your very eyes. They take audiences on a brand new experience that blends information—the digital world—with the real world.
At the same time, they also reinforce the concept that augmented and virtual realities are about vision. But is that really the case?
At this year's SWXS, Bose released a new conceptual AR glass—but this headset is not like its predecessors.
Rather than attempt to provide a more enhanced visual world, it presents an innovative listening experience. It can detect the wearer’s surrounding sounds and enhance the sound people "want" to hear, based on the context.
Bose’s focus on the potential for AR as an audio enhancer is a refreshing innovation after the onslaught of visual headsets flooding the market. AR and VR use computer-generated scenarios to enhance human senses and perception, and not just what they see.
You may remember the Pokémon Go fad of a few years ago. This AR game took over public spaces as players captured fictional creatures in everyday spaces: bus stops, shopping centres, and parks. Through a smartphone, people can gain access to an augmented world.
For more clarification on the differences between AR and VR, see here.
In VR and AR’s infancies, most products were focused on how to offer an enhanced visual experience. Now, companies like Bose are showing that virtual reality can be about more than what we see.
Pokémon Go is an example of augmenting the sense of space, and Bose shows that there’s benefit to enhancing the sense of sound. Recently, Microsoft Research created a haptic controller called Claw, an early-stage prototype which can mimic grasping, touching, and triggering in a VR environment. And a Spanish startup has announced that its VR glove can let users feel raindrops on their hands.
According to some recent studies, neurologists have confirmed that humans have at least 21 different senses. Imagine the virtual experience when digital technology is able to augment them all.
Why should educators care?
We all know that education is continually evolved as new tech emerges. This makes it increasingly important for the whole industry to make sure they’re ready for the exciting future.
However, many educators have misconceptions and AR and VR in their mind. Although many admit that theoretical knowledge-based online learning can be effective, they believe practical-based e-training is contextless, and that the lack of real feedback is fatal.
As shown by the examples above, there are existing products which create stunning visual virtual experiences, and a handful of conceptual explorations which attempt to stimulate the other senses.
It’s only a matter of time before AR and VR experiences which stimulate all the senses will create a more holistic training experience for learners.
Already there are RTOs starting to explore VR training: Volkswagen has initiated a Vive-based training system and plans to train 10,000 employees in this year; Walmart also applied a VR system to assist their employees to prepare for the "crushing crowds and panic-fueled shopping" during Black Friday sales.
The digitisation of learning seems to be an irreversible trend. New interactive technologies are pushing the boundaries, and the internal demand for a more sophisticated education is driving this new educational future.
In the AI era where data is everything, a digitalised training environment is the cornerstone. It enables the capture of learner behaviours and turns it into viable data, giving opportunity for the use of AI to improve or even reform education.
Recently, Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One presented the amazing future of a world filled with VR—and if Bose, Volkswagen, Microsoft, and Walmart are anything to go by, we’re well on our way.