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.

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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.

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Avatar image for appsfarm

Interesting VR experiment in the classroom highlighting how a 15 seconds session can help a kid to understand concepts such as the day night cycle or the dynamics of the solar system.

Avatar image for rlstanley

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

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for TheSkyHMaestro

<< LINK REMOVED >> 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.

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for TheSkyHMaestro

<< LINK REMOVED >> Meh, not acerbic enough

Avatar image for i_police

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

Avatar image for deactivated-58270bc086e0d

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

Avatar image for TheSkyHMaestro

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

Avatar image for deactivated-58270bc086e0d

<< LINK REMOVED >> 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.

Avatar image for hboogandorf

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> 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.

Avatar image for vanfanel1car

<< LINK REMOVED >>Please 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?

Avatar image for deactivated-58270bc086e0d

@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.

Avatar image for vanfanel1car

<< LINK REMOVED >>I 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


Avatar image for 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

Avatar image for Morphine_OD

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

Avatar image for gamingnerd121

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

Avatar image for meatz666

<< LINK REMOVED >> Lazy bastard. :P

Avatar image for gamingnerd121

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Not sure if you know about it, but i can see Otherland eventually happening with this.

Avatar image for gamingnerd121

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> I can't help it. It's in my genes. :)

Avatar image for Tiwill44

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

Avatar image for Djwolfram

<< LINK REMOVED >>or 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...

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for 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?"

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for kik4444

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

Avatar image for moonco

The future of virtual reality is not wearing headsets

Avatar image for gargungulunk


...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.

Avatar image for kik4444

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> 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

Avatar image for hboogandorf

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> 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.

Avatar image for anshanlord

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

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for 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...

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for 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?

Avatar image for 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

Avatar image for gargungulunk


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

This is a market yet to happen.

Avatar image for vduong942

terrible graphics and glitches will be misleading for the students

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for helldragonzer

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

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for 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

Avatar image for LucentWolf

<< LINK REMOVED >> 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.

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