Training

Setting Up Virtual Reality in the Classroom (Part 2)

Choosing Computer Hardware and Optional Hardware

As we mentioned before in Part 1, the hardware requirements for virtual reality are pretty steep. Most classrooms in both schools and corporate environments are not outfitted with adequate hardware to run VR.

As of right now, the cheapest options retail for around $800 per PC. There are a handful of laptops that are ready for VR, and the starting prices for those are at around $1150 per machine.

Desktops

These are just a fraction of the options for PCs that are on the market now. They’re labeled as “Vive ready” or Oculus ready” but in reality, these machines will (in most cases) work for either headset.

Oculus Ready PCs

Vive PCs

You also have the option of building your own. Here are links to a couple of guides.

Less than $900

Moderately Priced DIY Option

Laptops

While there aren’t many laptops out there that can handle virtual reality right now, this article does provide some good suggestions.

Optional Hardware

Kinect+Adaptor

The Kinect is a full body motion tracker.  It’s perfect for fitness applications and other real world scenarios where physical tasks are a large part of the training experience.

Virtuix Omni

The Virtuix Omni is a 360 rotational treadmill.  This piece of hardware is exceptionally useful when moving through areas is a significant part of the training process.

Leap Motion

The Leap Motion is a small device that can be mounted to a head-mounted display.  The device tracks hand motions, and can be used for more realistic training when physical tasks are performed.

Setting Up Virtual Reality in the Classroom (Part 1)

Boy using a virtual reality device
Boy using a virtual reality device

With so many different VR options hitting the market these days, it may seem like a daunting task to even get started outfitting your classroom(s) with this new technology. In this series, we’re going to walk through the all the steps you’ll need to take from choosing the right headset for your environment to setting up your VR station!

The first decision to make is “which head-mounted display do I want to invest in?” In this article, I’m only going to touch on the major 2 desktop options out there- the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. Both are excellent choices, but do vary in some significant ways.

While this is definitely not a comprehensive list, it does highlight key features and drawbacks for each option.

Oculus Rift

The first consumer version of the Oculus Rift hit the market in Q1 of 2016, and has been wildly popular.

Pros

-Positional Tracking is done using sensors on the headgear+a base station that is typically placed on a desk.

-Each Rift comes with an Xbox One controller.

-Oculus Touch, motion tracking hand controllers with buttons, will also be available to purchase sometime in 2016.

-Starting price of $600, making it $200 cheaper than the Vive.

Cons

-At the time of writing this article, Oculus Touch is not available yet, leaving users with less options for user input controls.

-Built to be more of a seated VR experience. Because of the way the positional tracking works, you’re not really meant to get up and move around without some extra hardware.

HTC Vive

Pros

-Because of the included handheld controllers and positional tracking system, the Vive is a truly immersive VR system out of the box. You have the ability to stand and move through VR environments.

-Slightly more flexible graphics card options than the Rift.

Cons

-$800 price point, making it $200 more expensive than the Rift

-While standing to play is super immersive, the headset is still wired, making it somewhat hazardous to play.

Final Thoughts

From an education and training perspective, the biggest deciding factor is probably going to be one of space. The Vive requires a bit more space, with more specific location requirements for its positional tracking. This also means that in smaller spaces, you’ll have less flexibility for multiple VR stations within the same classroom. You’ll need to consider how important full, standing immersion is compared to the need for multiple stations in your space as you’re making your decision.

At the time of publishing this article, neither the Rift or the Vive support Macs. Both headsets also have fairly beefy computer requirements. For a comprehensive hardware spec comparison, here’s a great article. Our next post will talk a little more in depth about computer options.

 

Continue to Part 2...

Pitfalls We’ll Face as VR Takes Off

While we are facing some pretty significant pitfalls in 2016 with the launch of major virtual reality sets (namely HTC Vive and Oculus Rift), we remain pretty optimistic that consumers and companies will look past these roadblocks to a bright future with VR. That being said, here are some of the major hurdles we’ll be facing this year.

Hardware Costs

Higher hardware cost to buy in than originally thought. Just the Rift is going to cost $600, and that won’t even include the Touch controllers slated to come out the 2nd half of this year. You do get an Xbox One controller and the ergonomics of the headset are much, much nicer. Also, up until recently, people have been able to take just about any recently made computer (including laptops) and run Rift software. Now the system requirements have been greatly increased (not complaining here… We totally get why- FRAME RATES), so a lot more folks are looking at having to upgrade or replace their rigs just to get started.

Lack of Titles 

As with any new tech, there will be some time between major headset launches and emergence of a large offering of quality apps to choose from. While it’s true that there are several major companies as well as many talented Indie studios developing games and experiences for VR to launch this year, we’ll probably still be waiting for enough content to really keep us busy and interested in the first few months.

Just as they were when smartphones first came into being, major studios are still highly cautious about going all-in on VR titles, so there aren’t a lot of ‘recognizable’ names and titles out there now.

Headset Competition 

There are so many possible platforms.  While developers are provided some freedom through development tools like Unity 3D and the Unreal Engine, the fact remains, developing titles for multiple platforms is a huge undertaking in most cases. Unified development software like SteamVR, OSVR, and just Unity’s own native VR support does not cover most headsets. The ones they do cover are still very much in beta-level support.

Competition is great in that it helps control pricing, but as the VR industry takes off, there are definitely going to be some growing pains.  The consumers that choose the “wrong” brand of headset will be out of luck when some of these companies go under or at the very least, have a very limited selection of titles to choose from.

How to Inspire and Engage Millennials in your Training Programs

 

There is a new generation taking over the workforce at large. The Millennial, or Generation Y, group has become one of the predominant groups of working adults today. This group of individuals was born between 1980 and 1999. As such, the environment and technology available when they were “growing up” was far different than the previous generations.

Understanding that Millennials respond differently to training modules is the key to successfully engaging them and completing their training. Gone are the days when you could supply your trainees with long lectures and bookwork. This generation of employees needs a far more tech-savvy and interactive experience to stay stimulated and inspired.

The Most Effective Ways to Reach a Millennial

Take advantage of Mobile learning

You will be hard pressed to find a Millennial today that does not have a mobile device. Many of these individuals travel around with more than one, in their daily lives. This is an entire generation who has grown up with laptops, cell phones, smart phones, and tablets. They are incredibly comfortable with these types of mobile devices. In fact, many feel naked without them. If you create training programs that utilize mobile devices, you will automatically increase the level of comfort and interest in this generation.

It's all just a game

Many people have heard the term “Gamification”, though few truly understands what it entails. If you think of Millennials and games in the same context, then you often think of popular gaming systems. Gamification however has nothing to do with Halo or Fallout. The process of Gamification is that of turning an ordinary circumstance into a game or competition. In reality, the Millennial's love of gaming systems has created a highly competitive culture who enjoys a true competition. In a training or educational setting, it is highly beneficial to create a game or competition environment from the lecture material. When a Millennial tries to “win the game”, they are learning your information as a by-product. Their intense desire to succeed evolves into a more thorough grasp of the knowledge.

Go to the Movies

Studies around the world have proven that Millennials are far more accepting of information they receive in a video or movie, then that of a book. If your training can include short succinct movies, your millennial trainees will be far more inspired to learn the material. Visually, a video or movie is going to draw the Millennial in, while long written text is going to dissuade them from interacting. Many people think this is a result of Millennials being the “lazy” generation. However, in truth Millennials are very inquisitive, and don’t want to waste any time. If they can witness a subject, they are more stimulated, and their questions are answered more thoroughly.  DOING is an even better option if training budgets allow…

Try any number of these techniques in your next training session, and you will be amazed at how well you inspire and engage with your burgeoning millennial workforce. Also, allow your Generation Y employees to participate in how the training is delivered. You will be amazed at the creative and inventive ideas they can produce.