Board the RMS Titanic: Irish VR Software Firm Launches Immersive Gaming Experience
Irish virtual/ augmented reality (VR/AR) software firm, Immersive VR Education (IVRE), has launched its latest offering to the virtual reality gaming market in the form of its Titanic VR Game— an immersive experience, which allows users to see the events of the doomed ship through the eyes of a survivor and to virtually explore the wreck on the seabed.
The game will be available for PC, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Windows Mixed Reality from 2pm (IST) today and a PlayStation release is planned for September.
The Waterford-based firm has already made waves internationally after receiving global recognition for its award-winning Apollo 11 VR moon landing experience which has sold more than 130,000 units since its launch in 2016. The recreation of the 1969 moon landing has been a hit on various VR platforms, including Oculus and PlayStation. It also won the Time Warner Future of Storytelling Award in New York in October 2015.
The company’s latest initiative, Titanic VR, has been hotly anticipated on the back of both the success of the Apollo and of IVRE’s parent Company, VR Education Holdings plc, listing on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange and on the Enterprise Securities Market, a market regulated by Euronext Dublin, earlier this year.
The latest experience from IVRE tells the fateful story of the Titanic from a first-person perspective of the survivors. The project began its life through a Kickstarter campaign in early 2017, which raised over €57,000, with the intention of bringing the game to market on PCs and PlayStation 4, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Its first phase test reviews in 2017 consolidated the company’s steadfast belief in the project’s direction, and its release to market now, after an exhaustive 2-year process, is a source of great pride for the entire team.
Speaking of the game’s release, David Whelan, CEO of VR Education Holdings PLC, commented:
“Titanic VR is a factually animated VR experience that tells the tragic story of the sinking of RMS Titanic as witnessed by survivors. As well as creating a realistic VR experience that tells the story of the tragedy in a compelling way, the game will also serve as a valuable resource for discovering more about the stricken ship, through a realistic exploration experience, using detailed maps and 3D models of the historic wreck site. We have used motion capture, face-scanning technology and professional voice actors to immerse users in the story and to enable them to relate to the people involved. In developing this, we wanted to create an accurate portrayal of events, so it is not only educational, but also emotional and very engaging.”
Pre-release reviews signal the excitement that surrounds this game:
“I tried the release version of Titanic VR. The lifeboat experience is extremely immersive, you even get goose bumps when you see the Titanic sinking while you sit in the safe boat! You can also explore the Titanic wreck on your own and play a campaign where you have to solve quests. Very immersive graphics and controls. Pure Titanic atmosphere.”
VooDooDE (VR YouTuber)
”Titanic VR is an example of what the future of education is going to look like. Virtual Reality is the new textbook that lets you travel back in time and relive important moments in history.”
Nathie (VR YouTuber)
A poignant tribute is also noted to the late Tony Meredith, Lead Environment Artist at Immersive VR Education. Tony was a much loved and now much missed member of the team, whose final creative and powerful artistry on Titanic VR will continue to serve as testament to a truly gifted master of VR art production.
Mr. Whelan spoke of the company’s vision:
“We wanted to create an authentic experience for users around a topic and setting in history that has long captivated people’s imagination.
While the technology is advanced, what we are really doing is bringing learning back to basics.
As children we learn to navigate the world through immersive experiences – think of learning a language or learning to cycle, or as we grow older going travelling and backpacking – the sights and sounds that often go unnoticed by our attention, are all taken in peripherally and form a whole context for our physical and mental learning. The experience of learning through VR/AR is similar, in that it’s an absorbing, sensory experience. Aside from being great fun, this project is a fantastic way to illustrate the effectiveness and potential of VR/AR technology for educational purposes.”
What’s next for IVRE…
Chief Operating Officer, Sandra Whelan spoke of the plans for the future:
“After a tireless build project and funding campaign, we are delighted to be able to bring Titanic VR to the market. For us, these games and experiences are effective showcases for Immersive VR Education, but they only form a small part of our company plan, which is to use VR and augmented reality to revolutionise education globally.
As a company, we are dedicated to advancing how educational and enterprise training content is shared and consumed on a world-wide basis”.
Immersive VR Education Ltd
The dynamic and creative outfit was founded by a husband-wife team – David and Sandra Whelan, who set up the company in 2014. In 2016, the pair realised that a large percentage of people who participate in online education don’t finish their courses and saw an opportunity to create a virtual platform which would be as engaging as a real classroom. They focused on the development of a distance learning educational platform called ENGAGE for universities and corporate educators.
Immersive VR Education’s platform provides VR content that can be used in schools, colleges, universities, research centres and corporate training to teach any subject in a virtual environment.
Researchers at Oxford University are currently using Immersive VR Education’s ENGAGE education platform to create hands-on lessons anywhere in the world. Combining ENGAGE with the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Windows Mixed Reality and other leading VR headsets, educators can create interactive virtual classrooms that can instruct up to 40 individuals simultaneously, offering avatar interaction and allowing instructors to be able to observe and provide feedback on a student’s work in real time. Not only can users interact inside live learning sessions within ENGAGE, they can record sessions that can be played by other ENGAGE users at any time in case they missed it first time around.
During 2016, the company became an Enterprise Ireland high-potential start-up client and raised over €1.3m securing funding from Enterprise Ireland, Kernel Capital Venture Funds and Suir Valley Ventures. Immersive VR Education’s parent company, VR Education Holdings plc, is now a publicly listed company on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange and on the Enterprise Securities Market, a market regulated by Euronext Dublin, with a market cap of approximately €37 million and has grown its team from 4 to 34.
“I got my epiphany the first time I used a virtual reality headset in 2014. I began researching the uses of virtual reality at that time and noticed high-end institutes were using this as a low-cost method of teaching and training. That was when I saw the potential for virtual reality to enter the education and training market for worldwide consumer use”.
David Whelan, CEO Immersive VR Education Ltd
Partners and clients to date include Oxford University, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and the BBC. They recently completed a VR experience commissioned by the BBC commemorating the 100th anniversary of the RAF. “1943: Berlin Blitz” puts viewers in the shoes of BBC war correspondent Wynford Vaughan-Thomas and allows them to retrace his journey on a genuine Lancaster bombing raid to Berlin at the height of the Second World War. The unique mastery of this team is their ability to bring historical events to life. David Whelan’s direction transports us to the time and the place in 1943 with the actual original real-time wartime commentary of the mission giving context to what we see and hear. We witness the professionalism, the fear, the exhilaration, the devastation.
The Reality of Virtual Reality
Through the use of specific hardware and software, virtual reality – sometimes called ‘immersive multimedia,’ as well as ‘virtual environment (VE)’ or ‘computer-simulated life’ – can help replicate or create an environment, based on reality or the imagination of the creator. The aim of VR is to create a sensory experience for the user sometimes including sight, touch, hearing, smell, or even taste.
The installed base of virtual reality headsets was estimated at around 7 million in 2016 and is forecast to grow to 37 million by 2020.
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