As VR continues gaining traction in education and training, we 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 ~5 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. Google VR, Oculus GO and Gear VR could be a gateway, but they don’t provide a true sense of the full capability of high end VR. Thereafore, It’s very important that you try a high fidelity VR system that includes hand tracking, such as Oculus Rift, Oculus Rift S, HTC Vive, or Valve Index.
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. We recommend establishing SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based). If you don’t know what problem you’re solving, or how you’ll know if you’ve succeeded, scaling your program over time becomes much more challenging.
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, and our Acadicus platform is only compatible with Oculus Rift or Oculus Rift S. We like the easy setup, relative portability, the built-in earphones, and ergonomics of the Touch controllers.
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. If you’re looking for high fidelity VR with the greatest range of content options, we highly recommend Oculus Rift for the most portable, high fidelity option on the market.
How much does it cost to build custom content?
It varies widely, and generally costs more than people think. Developing a truly effective, high quality VR experience from scratch 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.
Jon Brouchoud is the founder and CEO at Arch Virtual, developers of the Acadicus VR Training platform.
Jon leads Arch Virtual’s development team, and his passion is using virtual reality technologies to solve real world problems. He has over 20 years of experience in professional practice and has won numerous awards and competitions for his work in 3D development for clients including GE Healthcare, Suzuki, NBA Sacramento Kings, ASSP, American Family Insurance, ExxonMobil, Oculus, Facebook and many others.
Jon holds a Master’s Degree in Architecture, and his work has been featured in the New York Times, Business Week, Architectural Record, and the Chicago Tribune.
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