Virtual reality has huge implications for education, Oculus Rift creator says

Palmer Luckey envisions a future where classrooms go on field trips to Ancient Rome using virtual reality.

Virtual reality technology like Oculus Rift has huge implications in the field of education, creator Palmer Luckey said today as part of a White House Google Hangout. Luckey said the way in which field trips are currently structured is too expensive and children don't get enough out of them. But with virtual reality, these children could (virtually) travel to faraway destinations and learn about the world around them at a fraction of the cost.

"It's going to be really important for [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] education. Because kids don't learn best from reading a book or looking at a chalk board," Luckey said. "We've decided, as a society, that there's some benefit in field trips; actually having hands-on experiences where we send people to do things. The problem is, it takes a lot of resources to do that. Most field trips I've been on have been mostly travelling and corralling kids, and eating lunch, and not nearly as much actual learning. And you're limited in what you can do. You can't go to a new place every day because the resources aren't there."

"I think virtual reality is going to make a lot of these experiences, like travelling to virtual locations or being able to see all of the planets to scale next to each other--it's going to take these things that are impossible to do today and make them part of everyday education," he added.

Work in the field of education-themed virtual reality is already underway. A team from Harvard University has created The Giza Project, a piece of software that allows you to travel through time and virtually explore the pyramids without leaving your home or paying for a flight to Egypt. Developers are also creating a virtual experience where you can "visit" Ancient Rome.

These kinds of initiatives stand to revolutionize education, Luckey said.

"What if you could not spend all those resources; if you could send not college students but any person of any age to go see the ruins as they exist today and as they existed during the height of the Roman Empire--that's something that's impossible to do today," he said. "You could throw as much money as you want at it and it can't happen. I think virtual reality will make that possible."

It's not just education that virtual reality could impact. Oculus VR CEO Brendan Iribe argued last year that virtual reality will disrupt a great many industries, including film. "Gravity was made for VR," Iribe said in October. "VR is going to have a big impact on film." The company also believes Oculus Rift will change gaming and "redefine fundamental human experiences."

If virtual reality is going to change the world in the way that Oculus believes it will, don't expect the revolution to happen anytime soon. Oculus Rift remains a developer-only prototype, and the company has made no indication as to when units will be available commercially and how much they will cost. Still, the company is preparing for a public rollout, as evidenced by the $75 million in venture capital funding it raised in December and the recent hiring of Electronic Arts veteran David DeMartini to lead a developer relations team.

At CES 2014 this week, Oculus VR showed off the latest iteration of Oculus Rift, a prototype called Crystal Cove. The head-mounted display boasts improved resolution from its 1080p OLED screen and a new real-position tracking system that utilizes an external camera.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

Discussion

72 comments
rlstanley
rlstanley

Why are we tying education to school so much in this discussion? Is school the only place you can learn?


ry0uz
ry0uz

VR is decades old technology. It's already used for education, training and even for the treatment of psychological disorders. The only thing the occulus is bringing to the table is providing a relatively cheap way for the masses to use and enjoy it. However, for the technology to truly permeate the fields and industries mentioned in the article then it will need to be much, MUCH cheaper, to the point where it is as common as smart phones these days.

Lord_Badmagic
Lord_Badmagic

"Virtual reality has huge implications for education, Oculus Rift creator says"

No it really doesn't, its a  fad, a pretty silly fad that we have seen countless times before.  While true the technology and its capability have improved since the last desperate attempt to make something of it they are still stuck in fad-ware land trying to find any justification to waste money on this gadget.

i_police
i_police

So, thats what a clitorus looks like.. (mike, age 38)

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

Oh yeah because sitting in a chair with a box strapped to your face is a great substitute for actually going to Rome.

LJNkickstarter
LJNkickstarter

That would be a neat idea. But being there with classmates or colleagues for me still the best for exploring those places. The only thing i would thankful for oculus is probably vomiting due to motion sickness rather in the bus 

Morphine_OD
Morphine_OD

yeah, if only Occulus Rift was virtual reality indeed. So far it's just a head mounted 3d-display.

gamingnerd121
gamingnerd121

As long as it's not motion controlled, i'd be willing to try this out. It looks pretty cool.

Tiwill44
Tiwill44

Yeah, potential that won't get used until the year 3000, considering how behind the times education is.

meatz666
meatz666

I want the Oculus Rift.

But stating that using it to learn is better than a field trip where you actually see the real stuff is kinda stupid.

Like George Carlin said: "What happened to the kid, in the yard, with a stick?"

ecurl143
ecurl143

Anyone who thinks this won't be a breakthrough educational tool needs their head examining.

I have tried this thing and I can tell you even in it's early development, it was nothing short of spectacular.

Occulus have addressed most of the technical issues such as head tracking, latency and screen resoloution to a point where total immersion is almost guaranteed.

It's not just education this thing will impact, the games industry will explode again with this piece of kit and I can see only too clearly, how this could be used in the movie industry.

Make no mistake, this thing will be massive.

kik4444
kik4444

Uncool schools are probably just gonna say they don't have enough budget...

Moonco
Moonco

The future of virtual reality is not wearing headsets

anshanlord
anshanlord

I can never see myself wearing that huge dorkey piece of crap excuse for technology! even when I'm alone!

gargungulunk
gargungulunk

Even out of "school", this seems like a fantastic idea...

I'll be lucky to get out of the state this year, let alone across the ocean...

...maybe I'll make an ocean/raft simulator...where if you stare at the sun, you get a bonus level.

sol_invictus55
sol_invictus55

Maybe first we should find a way to teach public school students how to do basic math and writing, then we can see about VR trips to the Pyramids of Giza...

sirapathetic01
sirapathetic01

Interesting. Might be cool. This has a lot of potential, but it just depends on the support. I hope it all works out when this releases to the public.

X-RS
X-RS

So ye I've demoed these a few tims 10 mins each, take me off and go walk....WOAH

Whats the longest you've lasted with these?

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

Someone has to craft the virtual worlds though - not an easy feat.

On the other hand, there be jobs for 3D graphics designers. :D

vduong942
vduong942

terrible graphics and glitches will be misleading for the students

bouchart
bouchart

Students don't open their books.  When they get laptops or tablets, they break them, hack into them, and use them to play games or download pornography.  Giving them these expensive virtual reality headsets will end in disaster.

helldragonzer
helldragonzer

And.............I've lost complete interest in VR now.

Poodger
Poodger

I just don't see this happening. I say this as a teacher myself. The concept sounds cool and innovative, but the reality would be much messier. It would be expensive, hard to maintain, and be in limited quantity (most likely would be available to students with disabilities first and foremost), available only on a limited basis. Factor in student management while using these, and this just seems like a bad idea. Perhaps in the far future, it could be cool, but children are unfortunately becoming more and more unruly as time goes on, so by the time this would be feasible in a classroom setting, it would be hard to justify using it with such brats.


This would work best in a museum setting, where children can go on a field trip. Keeping these in the schools themselves would be a nightmare.

Paul2004
Paul2004

Being able to see how it was done, experience everything rather than just reading about it does sound interesting. Its very easy to forget what the textbooks say but if you saw it first hand, interacted with it and enjoyed the experience then that memory will stay with you. 

If they can perfect VR tech then we may even get to experience full VR gaming (.Hack for example....tho i think Sword Art Online would be better >:D ), future of gaming could get very interesting or it could fall short...time will tell

Fabian85
Fabian85

Could be a great tool for education. People learn in different ways. Take dyslexia for instance. Possibility of visiting authentic historical settings and events in a VR setting would def assist some people in their learning process its a no brainer.

bluefox755
bluefox755

I'm not sure I have ever heard so much hype about anything, ever. Do I think it will be cool? Sure. Do I think it will match the hype? Not likely.

LucentWolf
LucentWolf

I don't know why I read comments any more. All there is now is negativity and hate and cynicism. I really just need to ignore people and enjoy things on my own. -.-


Anyways, for me, the future is VR. By that I mean, if done right, it's the next logical jump in gaming entertainment. Not to mention the other applications this can be used for. Right now I'm reading The Eye of Minds, and I can see this being a step towards such a device. Obviously not any time in the near future, but down the line. 


You'd be surprised, you might think this is all geek mumbo jumbo, gimmicky stuff coming out from various developers. Pie-in-the-sky dreams. Truth is, our technology is getting to the point where you might be some intriguing, and even scary stuff coming out within the next 10 years.

TheSkyHMaestro
TheSkyHMaestro

@ry0uz Decades old, but has never been useful or attractive or commercial ready until now.

And, if all this CES competition is any indication, it will become cheap. Hail capitalism, you dirty socialists.

TheSkyHMaestro
TheSkyHMaestro

@Dannystaples14 Because it's possible to go to Ancient Rome with 500 USican bucks.

vanfanel1car
vanfanel1car

@Dannystaples14Please show me which high schools allowed you to go to rome,greece, paris...etc as part of the school cirriculum? Also which schools had time machines which you let you examine those places in previous centuries?

Djwolfram
Djwolfram

@Kristan1711or read a book,or take vacation in egypt,rome etc and see it with your own eyes,much better then OR.
But games might be awesome with Rift...

sirapathetic01
sirapathetic01

@Kristan1711 Documentary doesn't give you perspective. And 3D documentaries don't either :P

Not saying you can't do without perspective, but it's still something a documentary doesn't do that the Oculus Rift can. How far can that go in terms of benefits in education? I don't know, I'm not a part of the board of education.

gargungulunk
gargungulunk

@Moonco 

...but how does one get to that future then?

Each step, drives the tech in the right direction.  We're not going to just instantly get holograms and shrapnel.  It's a building-block process still.

gargungulunk
gargungulunk

@Gelugon_baat 

...Dev-kits only cost $300, gear included.

This is a market yet to happen.

LucentWolf
LucentWolf

@Paul2004 Given your examples of .Hack and Sword Art Online, if you are a reader I suggest you look into The Eye of Minds, by James Dashner. I think you will enjoy it.

hystavito
hystavito

@bluefox755 Yeah probably not.  Another thing that's bugging me a bit is that VR and similar visualization stuff is not new, the tech isn't really the important point, it's the cost.  I'm not saying that the Rift is the same old tech from ages ago, I'm sure there's a bunch of stuff that has advanced, but the cost is the only real thing here that MIGHT come slightly close to meeting all that hype.

Spartan_418
Spartan_418

@LucentWolfno... dude... this is just gonna be Virtual Boy all over again, I don't care how much the technology has improved... um... something something... GIMMICK!

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@TheSkyHMaestro If it is anything like my school it will be a 1 minute video with you sitting on a chair with your classmates making a load of noise around you, throwing paper balls at your head, before you get it wrenched off of your face so the other 30 people can have a chance before the class ends. Probably have 1 Rift for the entire school or some shit, where it is rented out constantly or broken 90% of the time.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@vanfanel1car I live in UK. My school actually did make trips like that since it was literally just over the English Channel.

But you are suggesting that there will be perfect mock ups of life in those times as well. Well there isn't any at the moment. There isn't exactly live video footage from the colluseum. So someone can make a reasonable attempt at recreating it, where it will be kind of educational and look like a game. 

Also it begs the question why not just stick to books like we have done since humans learned how to write? They are infinitely more capable and fact filled than a simulation could ever be. Hell kids these days have shit imaginations as it is what with getting all of their fun from video games and movies. School should be the place to read books because most of them sure aren't going to do it at home.

Words are limitless, games, simulations and movies, stop when their budget runs out.

kik4444
kik4444

@gargungulunk @Moonco There already are some hologram-like techs out there, but they're not available for commercial use yet and I don't think they will, but future ones WILL definately be available

PosiTVEMinD355
PosiTVEMinD355

@hystavito@bluefox755 The actual Oculus is supposed to be around $350-$500.  That's a heck of a lot cheaper than Sony's VR headset that was supposedly reported to be around $1000. One headset is more expensive for weaker hardware and the other cheaper for beefier hardware.  It's logical what the right choice would be if you were thinking of what headset to go with besides the fact if you even own a PS4 or Pimped out PC

jinzo9988
jinzo9988

@Spartan_418@LucentWolfWrong.  First of all, the Virtual Boy was virtually(heh) impossible to play comfortably.  The ergonomics of it were a complete disaster from top to bottom.  Second of all... for the most part, the games were crap.  That'll kill any device, gimmick or not.  Thirdly, the Virtual Boy could only display red or black.  I don't care how hard you try, there's no 'reality' in red and black.  And finally, very few Virtual Boy games actually attempted virtual reality at all.  Virtual Boy had stupid shit like puzzle games and side scrollers.  That's not what VR is.  Conversely, everything I've seen from the OR has been in first person... as it should be for this sort of thing. 

allever
allever

@Spartan_418@LucentWolf You should go to your nearest mirror and repeat what you just said.  Do you look or sound like an idiot?  Yes, that's what you are.

Basically, you're saying that we shouldn't try to do something again, because of past failures.  Failure is how we advance.  Where did you crawl out of to not know this basic lesson in life!?

LucentWolf
LucentWolf

Actually, I quite enjoyed my Virtual Boy back in the day. lmao Yeah, now that was a gimmick for the most part, and I'd only play it here and there, but the experience was pretty fun for what it was. I built a rig so I could lay back on the couch or in bed and play it, instead of having to try and set it on a table and lean down into it to play.

hboogandorf
hboogandorf

@Dannystaples14 @TheSkyHMaestro  ok i have lived in the UK for three years and went to a private school. there were school trips to france and spain and what not but that would be a language and cultural lesson, not a history lesson. both could be used in the occults rift. now i live in the US at the moment and you have such a narrow mind to suggest that everything is how you lived. in my school every student has a macbook air. obviously a school isn't going to only have one Rift. they will either have enough for a whole class room or none at all. and books? they won't be replaced. i think that books and the Rift if anything would both be used in schools. not one or the other. besides what kind of immature dickwad people for class mates did you have. and yes movies and games are limited to their budgets, but you don't think that books don't cost money too? I mean jeez. come on, when you go to university you have to purchase your own books or its on the bill of going there in the first place. the point is that the Rift is the promise of possible growth, not something that deserves to be shat on because it hasn't succeeded in the past *cough* virtual boy *cough*. And also most people aren't stupid enough to break something on purpose that cost $300 or more. you do realise you have to sign a contract of agreement that you promise to respect the schools technology when it comes to using it in the classroom. 

vanfanel1car
vanfanel1car

@Dannystaples14I am merely trying to convey to scope and opportunity that VR has to offer.  Your view is quite narrow.  Not everyone lives in the uk.  Not all schools can take trips to other countries.  Not everyone has the funds.  The possibilities of VR provide nearly limitless learning opportunities.  Even now a google maps implementation allows you to use the rift to visit different places and the results are amazing.


As for why not stick to books for learning here's lucky palmer's (oculus inventor) answer although I suggest you listen to the whole video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Q4euLAhNRo&feature=player_detailpage#t=1111



hboogandorf
hboogandorf

@kik4444 @gargungulunk @Moonco  that is correct on the hologram tech thing. my dad is a military scientist and he was only aloud to look at it. they showed a holographic magnifying class that actually worked. he tells me it was incredible to know the potential.