Everyone’s talking about it.
Your friend’s school just got a set of 8 headsets.
Meanwhile, you’re too embarrassed to admit you just don’t get it.
VR. AR. MR. XR?!
Why are there so many R’s and what do they mean?
More importantly, what do they mean for you and your school?
Grab a cuppa and get ready to find out!
Virtual Reality : aka VR
Virtual Reality (VR) is the full experience; you don a futuristic headset, the world is entirely computer generated, and is immersive enough to make you forget about the real world around you!
You can interact with things around you or even walk around (clear space required!)
VR has actually been around for longer than you might think, going back as far as 1838.
(No, seriously! Find out about the history of VR here.)
The first real boom came about in the early 1990’s, but the technology didn’t meet the hype and it fizzled out. By the time 2010 rolled around, technology had caught up and the Oculus Rift was launched. Perhaps due to the failure of VR in the 1990’s, the rollout has been somewhat cautious rather than a market flood.
Although true VR is considered to be limited to the hefty VR headsets you see in tech reviews, the name has evolved in common use and now VR is a bit of a catch all term for 360 experiences.
That dented old Google Cardboard and ancient smartphone? If you can play a YouTube video then you’re VR ready!
OR you can read on to learn how to become THAT person because smartphone based VR is technically known as…
360 : aka Fishtank VR
Okay. We just got to grips with VR and now there’s a prefix?!
This type of VR is less complicated than it sounds!
With 360 or Fishtank VR, the experience is fixed to a single location, a series of static locations, or a video. You can look around, but you can’t independently move around in the space.
This can be with VR headsets like the Google Cardboard or Homido Grab and a smartphone loaded with a virtual tour or 360 video. Or it can be a shared experience from an interactive whiteboard, laptop, or tablet.
This is a great option for schools. Kids can experience the same amazing worlds whilst safely seated and it’s usually a much cheaper option!
The Seymour & Lerhn platform provides access to a wide range of exciting and immersive VR and AR (we’ll get to that!) experiences which are aligned to the National Curriculum and accessed through your usual internet browser.
But it’s not just the small screens – oh no!
Immersive domes are the giants of the Fishtank VR world.
Multiple projectors display a seamless 360 image inside a dome construction or retrofitted room. The audience are able to look around their surroundings in a fully shared experience.
Immersive domes have been around for a while but are now finally in reach of schools.
You need to have a suitable space and installations can be expensive, but the domes provide incredibly immersive teaching environments which are second to none – if you have the budget available its a no-brainer!
Seymour & Lerhn have joined forces with Igloo Vision to provide a simple turnkey solution for schools. Igloo Vision have installations across the globe used for everything from events to education.
Seymour & Lerhn content runs seamlessly within the immersive domes, as well as all your usual classroom devices, taking the hassle out of finding immersive educational content and giving you the time to enjoy the teaching bit!
Augmented Reality : aka AR
Augmented Reality (AR) is basically an overlay of digital content in the real world, viewed through a camera.
Think Pokemon Go and Snapchat.
It’s placing and viewing virtual objects within your real-world space using just the camera on your phone or tablet.
For education, this means dressing kids in historic costume, walking with dinosaurs, and watching the Apollo 11 Eagle land on the playground.
It’s all done through the device and means you can bring the world into your classroom without literally bringing the world into your classroom. Pretty cool, huh?
Most AR is still accessed through apps which are downloaded onto the device. For parents and small groups, this is a fantastic way to get kids learning whilst having fun! For schools with lots of devices or large classes it can become difficult to manage in a classroom setting.
At Seymour & Lerhn, we’ve developed a new system that means you can use AR without downloading any apps.
The AR is accessed directly through the platform using your usual browser and works on most devices. It even works on interactive whiteboards when connected to a webcam – class selfie with Roman helmets and shields? ✔️
And if you haven’t got a camera device? The system automatically adapts so you can look at the objects in a 360 viewer using pretty much any device.
SO we’ve covered VR and AR and we’re feeling confident!
Now onto the new kids on the block.
Mixed Reality : aka MR
Mixed Reality (MR) is a sort of VR/AR hybrid.
It is the merging of real and virtual environments which are able to interact with each other in real-time. For example, headsets are able to project real time information to engineers working with building or infrastructure. The headsets are able to recognise real world objects and overlay relevant information.
It’s still pretty techie and you probably won’t see many entry-level options available for schools.
AR is already becoming much more advanced, allowing a higher level of interaction between the real and virtual worlds. It’s likely that AR (as the more widely known term) will soon reach a level in-line with MR, and the name ‘Mixed Reality’ will simply disappear in favour of Augmented Reality – at least that’s one less R to remember!
Finally we’ve got…
eXtended Reality : aka XR
XR is the term which brings all these ‘R’s together!
Extended Reality is the umbrella under which VR/AR/MR/360 all sit.
Whilst the terms VR and AR have slowly made their way into mainstream use, XR is still relatively uncommon.
As technology evolves, it’s possible that we will add more R’s to the XR family and it may well become the ‘parent’ term.
So now you understand VR, AR, MR, and XR – how can you successfully bring them into the classroom?