Originally published at acadicus.com on March 19, 2019.
As VR continues gaining traction in education and training, and organizations seek to integrate it into their curriculum, I wanted to share a few tips and answers to frequently asked questions we receive for VR development. There are lots of options, so hopefully this will help get you started.
Who is this article for?
This ~2 minute read is for anyone researching, or hoping to get started with VR training and education.
First things first: Try It!
A surprising number of people researching VR, or interviewing developers, haven’t actually tried it. Until you try high-end VR for yourself, you can’t truly appreciate the possibilities, or make effective strategic decisions about implementing VR training in your organization.
What is the business case, pain point, or objective you’re hoping to achieve with VR? Is it to increase learner engagement? Save instructor time? Reduce travel? Understanding and leading with this in mind can inform and assist with your research and investments.
What VR hardware should you use?
Arch Virtual develops for any of the most popular VR hardware, each of which has advantages and disadvantages. We tend to favor Oculus Rift for most education and enterprise organizations just getting started, depending on their goals. We like the easy setup, relative portability, the built-in earphones, and ergonomics of the Touch controllers. Our pilot release of the Acadicus VR training platform is currently compatible with Oculus Rift only.
What kind of PC should you buy?
There are lots of options, but we typically provide or encourage our clients to purchase hardware in parity with our main development machines to assure compatibility. We’re currently using mostly Alienware Laptops, Intel Core i7, 16GB Memory, with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070. However, it is important to keep in mind that there are lots of options and PC hardware is constantly improving.
Is Google Cardboard a viable option for VR training?
There are lots of use cases for Google Cardboard, where the user is a passive observer of a virtual experience. However, most of the applications we develop are fully interactive, and therefore dependent on the use of hand tracking controllers like Oculus Touch. These controllers enable the user to reach out and pick things up, use hand gestures, and interact within the virtual training environment.
Oculus Quest and Vive Focus are cordless and don’t require a PC. Will our apps be compatible?
A new generation of ‘standalone’ VR headsets are coming to market, packing all of the processing power into the headset hardware, and eliminating the need for a PC or cords. These are exciting innovations for VR that will be a highly attractive option in VR education and enterprise applications. However, the important thing to keep in mind is that the processing capabilities of these headsets will be substantially limited compared to tethered headsets like Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, and more similar to a mobile device with battery life becoming another limiting factor.
How much does it cost to build custom content for us?
It varies widely, and generally costs more than people think. Developing a truly effective, high quality VR experience is a complex process requiring a wide array of skills. This is exactly why we created the Acadicus VR training platform. Where the cost and complexity of typical VR development is prohibitive, Acadicus provides everything needed to create your own VR training experiences and record expert demonstrations.
For organizations getting started with VR education and training that require custom content to meet their goals, we recommend starting small and simple. For example, start with a prototype or proof-of-concept, then test and measure how well it works, refine interactions and perform several rounds of quality testing before investing in further polish. This helps de-risk your investment in VR, demonstrates the possibilities, and build internal interest to support and adopt the project. This approach also provides an opportunity to gain a thorough understanding of how to effectively deploy VR training.
Can I customize my VR training content?
The ability to customize VR training applications is an important consideration to keep in mind if you opt to purchase pre-built VR software. Most applications do not allow for customization, and limit you to a specific set of variables. Sometimes, this is all you need — in the case of the VR Fall Safety Training application we developed for ASSP, the application can’t be customized by the buyer, but it was developed based on guidelines and regulations everyone who deploys it is already familiar with.
Our Acadicus platform is designed to allow end-users to create their own VR simulation and training scenes. It provides everything needed, including a variety of environments, equipment, people and optional interactivity needed to create and share VR applications. This flexibility was our goal from the onset, which we believe will become increasingly valuable to educators, trainers and other instructors who want to be a part of shaping the curriculum vs. using an app created by others that can’t be customized.
I hope this information has been helpful in getting you started with VR education and training. If you would like more information, or a free estimate to work with Arch Virtual or Acadicus on your next project, send us a note and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to keep up to date on the latest and greatest from the virtual frontier.
Originally published at acadicus.com on March 19, 2019.