Gaming. Education. Entertainment. Health. All of these industries are about to be shaken up by a platform of experience that is only now beginning to show its possibilities. That platform is Virtual Reality, or VR for short.
A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of being one of the first people in Australia to view David Attenborough’s new VR documentary featuring the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef. After being introduced to the technology underlying the experience we were about to jump into, I slipped on my Gear VR and was transported to a submersible. There I sat, just in front of David Attenborough and his crew, taking in the awe-inspiring sights of the depths where glowing, colourful coral and other strange creatures dwelled.
Much has been said about the revolution coming for gaming in the VR space, and it is indeed a huge commercial opportunity for developers in that field. However, from the reactions of my fellow virtual reality submersible passengers, it’s clear that from a video context, something special is happening. Taking people out of their normal surroundings and planting them into another environment to discover, be inspired, and to understand the nature of someone else’s perspective is one of the forces of virtual reality that can be used powerfully in an education setting.
I’ve never been to the Great Barrier Reef, and haven’t enjoyed the colours and spectacle of that place. But thanks to VR, I have “experienced” it now. I wasn’t watching on a big screen in my living room or squinting at my phone. I was there, as a captive audience member, looking and learning in a fascinating and all-encompassing visual treat.
This experience, and many before it, has inspired me to delve into the production of VR video content. And you know what the big secret is? It really isn’t that hard to make your own. Sure, I don’t have a submersible or a helicopter at my disposal, but with a tripod, good lighting and a plan of what I want to capture, I can put you in the middle of a retail store to see how staff go about their day; show you a scene involving a medical emergency; or give you a sightseeing tour on the observation deck of a tower.
The ability to drop your learners into a scene where they can move their head and take in an entire sphere of visual information can be a compelling and reinforcing tool for many subjects. If you have a 360 camera, a tripod and basic editing skills, you can create short but powerful and memorable pieces of VR content that will help drive home your training point.
The commoditization of VR hardware has, to a certain extent, democratized VR video production to the point where a relatively small investment in time, upskilling and hardware can reap massive benefits in enhancing your teaching strategies and make your training sessions evocative and successful.
My advice? Have a look at what’s available in hardware and software that’s within your budget and start planning your journey into VR content creation. Along with my workshop on creating affordable VR learning content, you’ll be able to inspire and wow your learning groups in no time.