Introducing Peer—A Mixed Reality Educational Experience

After three months of hard work, the Moment interns are proud to present Peer.

What is Peer?

Peer is a Mixed Reality platform that uses a combination of physical and digital elements that engage students by making abstract concepts and complex forces visible and tangible.

The state of education today

Previously, traditional education relied heavily on textbooks, videos, memorization, testing, and instruction in order to teach students about hard to see and invisible science topics. Although this method of teaching was successful in the past, new teaching methods like S.T.E.A.M. (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) and maker education have started making a big impact in the classroom by changing the way students learn: by doing.

Our research and insights

Through our research, we found that there were three key aspects that we should keep in mind when teaching complex lessons: providing context, facilitating prototyping, and opening collaboration. Providing context allows students to understand not only why they are learning a particular topic, but also understand where this topic fits into the real world in the future. Prototyping encourages students to iterate on their designs at a rapid pace so that they can innovate at a quicker rate. By opening up the collaborative process, the classroom becomes a space to work together and build off of one another through leadership and communication.

How Peer targets these three key aspects

By using a combination of Internet-enabled sensors and digital headsets, Peer has the unique advantage in teaching abstract concepts in an engaging way. Explaining something like the doppler effect on a 2-D plane does not do the concept justice. With Peer’s Internet-enabled sensor and digital headset, visualizing these complex forces becomes a delightful experience. Being able to see is one thing, but being able to experience the force in the context of the real world and interact with it makes learning inherently better.

How we got here

Before this project started, Moment wanted to explore new ways to leverage Virtual and Augmented Reality. VR and AR applications today are focused heavily in entertainment through games or videos. What Moment prompted us to do was to find different ways to utilize VR and AR. As interns we decided to tackle education and the ways that this technology can enhance the learning experience.

Our findings

Below are some key points and insights that we gathered throughout the process of designing Peer.

Insights from interviewing students and educators:

  • Screens are like black holes for kids
  • Learning comes from process, not the end product or result
  • Kids need information in bite sized chunks to maintain focus and understanding
  • Post-project reflections allow students to think about the project in a new way
  • Maker education develops soft skills in ways that traditional education can’t

Being a designer for different realities:

  • You have a lot of power when you are designing for VR or AR. Use that power wisely
For example, you can scale your environment and objects however you want.
  • Ask yourself if you really need that interface in the VR world. Do you really need a 2-D button to open a box? Why don’t you just make the user open the box as they would in the real world?
  • Storytelling is your greatest asset. If you need someone to move to a different room use a door as a transition to transport your user. (Play Job Simulator for more examples of great storytelling.)
  • Each reality (VR, MR, AR) should have similar multi-sensory experiences. (Ian wrote a detailed blog about it here.)

The final presentation

In addition to creating the final product, we had an evening to present our process and results to the entire staff at the Moment. This was a great time for the Moment team because they finally got to see what we were working on for the past three months. Here are some images from the final presentation night:

Sarah presenting our research
Meaghan demo-ing Peer
Nick demo-ing Peer

The Moment summer internship was a great time and I had a lot of fun working on this project. If you are currently in school I encourage you to apply to their 2017 internship in the summer when the application opens — you are going to have a great time. If you want to chat with any of the interns find us on social media and ask us anything!

Goodbye from the 2016 Moment summer intern team!

Andrea Everman, Sarah Mitrano, Ian Morrow, and Daniel Park are interns at Moment in New York. Sarah is a recent graduate of Washington University with a BFA in communication design; Daniel is a junior at Parsons pursuing a BBA in strategic design and management; and Ian and Andrea are pursuing MDes degrees at the IIT Institute of Design. You can read the team’s progress this summer on Momentary Exploration.

Check out the Moment summer 2016 intern project here.