VR Electronics Lab
Educational Mobile VR | Mobile | Roles: Design, Programming, Modelling
For my master’s dissertation I decided to look at how Virtual Reality could be used in an educational environment – as the future of VR is going to be in non-gaming areas, much like the Kinect. Right now, Video Game VR is too expensive and doesn’t meet the expectations of the player. Yet non-gaming sectors are finding plenty of uses for both VR and AR, apps and experiences. One great use for VR is in education, allowing students to partake in experiences that may be inaccessible to them – historical tours in places opposite side of the world, medical simulations etc. The dissertation aim was to try and improve educational learning through VR. I choose to do a Electronics Lab, as it was something I was familiar with.
My supervisor recommended making the Lab for mobile VR, as this is much cheaper and affordable for everyone. Smart Phone + Viewer = VR experience. This adds in a bunch of design problems which you don’t find in PC/Console headsets, and something I had a lot of fun trying to solve when it came to design and development.
The main issue is user input, which on mobile headsets is much limited to their console brethren. On Vive you have Vive Controllers, with both buttons and hand tracking input. Oculus you have Oculus Controllers, with hand tracking and buttons but also can use a gamepad. The PSVR has the dual shock controller and move controllers. However Mobile all depends on the viewer, Gear VR gives you a single button, while Google Daydream gives you a ‘Wii mote’ controller with motion tracking and buttons. The cardboard has none of these, you can use a USB OTG (on the go), which means you can connect a gamepad to the phone to give you extra input. But this method isn’t accessible to many people, so it’s not a viable option. This leaves cursor/look targeting input.
Cursor/Look based targeting input, basically uses where the player looks for X seconds for input. For example, if the player looks at a button for 3 seconds, then after the 3 seconds the button is pressed. It does affect user experience, as the process is now taking longer than it would if they had a button on a controller/headset to press instead. But it does mean everyone can use your VR experience, making it very accessible. Design problems like these are always fun to try and solve, helps push you to outside the box ideas.