Lifeliqe: Preeminent Digital VR Educational Platform
Many years ago, two friends met over a beer in Czech Republic. One, a skilled PC game designer, was showing the other what’s possible to make using 3D graphics. “Wait a minute, this has to have a better use than gaming!” said the other and with that, they started creating a tool that would bring immersive 3D models and virtual reality to learning. Thus was the genesis of Lifeliqe, the preeminent leader in learning using interactive 3D in virtual, augmented and mixed reality.
Seeing that, let’s take a better look at why bringing virtual reality into education is a good idea and why we think it has a bright future.
Virtual Reality and Educational Development
Worldwide shipments of Virtual Reality (VR) hardware have skyrocketed, with total volumes reaching 9.6 million units. Led by key products from Samsung, Sony, HTC, and Oculus, the category was estimated to have generated hardware revenues of approximately $2.3 billion in 2016. While VR will drive nearly all of the hardware volume in 2016, Augmented Reality (AR) hardware is forecast to ramp up over the next few years. According to the first worldwide AR/VR forecast from International Data Corporation (IDC), the combined device markets will see hardware shipments surge past 110 million units in 2020.
With the technology now becoming readily accessible to consumers, industries from gaming to film to journalism are testing ways to utilize this new medium for communication and entertainment. While the technology powering the virtual reality headsets has dramatically improved, there is still an absence of compelling content outside the niche gaming markets. Few are creating content that may be used for educational purposes, with most advances being made in the entertainment industry, yet research is being done on learning in virtual reality, as many believe its immersive qualities have the potential to enhance learning.
The greatest challenge to the growing virtual reality industry is not cost but the availability of relevant and lifelike content other than gaming, which is not particularly useful or applicable to schools, museums or libraries. Once there’s other content than for gaming, there’s a good chance of VR becoming mainstream tech, as opposed to a gadget for gaming enthusiasts.
The Market for Education and Virtual Reality
It is an inseparable part of any entrepreneur’s decision to assess the size of the market he’s considering to enter. In case of education, the opportunities are huge. Data from World Bank state there are 200mn primary and secondary students in the developed countries. According to National Center for Education, there are 50mn K-12 students and 20mn college students in the US. Gartner sized the global education software market at $12bn in 2015, consisting of $5.2bn in the K-12 education and $6.6bn for higher education.
“Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have the potential to become the next big computing platform, and as we saw with the PC and smartphone, we expect new markets to be created and existing markets to be disrupted. There's no shortage of examples of how VR and AR can reshape existing ways of doing things – from buying a new home, interacting with a doctor, or watching a football game. As the technology advances, price points decline, and an entire new marketplace of applications (both business and consumer) hit the market, we believe VR/AR has the potential to spawn a multibillion-dollar industry, and possibly be as game changing as the advent of the PC,”reads the report by Goldman Sachs .
Goldman Sachs further states that “they believe that Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have the potential to become a standard tool in education and could revolutionize the ways students are taught for both K-12 and for graduate education” in medicine, architecture and other areas where it is important for students to interact in a 3D environment.
Virtual Reality has been seriously noticed also by the U.S. Department of Education,
“To be successful in our daily lives and in a global workforce, Americans need pathways to acquire expertise and form meaningful connections to peers and mentors. This journey begins with a base of knowledge and abilities that can be augmented and enhanced throughout our lives. Fortunately, advances in learning sciences have provided new insights into how people learn. Technology can be a powerful tool to reimagine learning experiences on the basis of those insights”.
The Impact of 3D on Academic Results
Virtual reality has a clear potential to be an effective learning tool and even though there’s not much data on the impact of VR on learning, there are some other studies that provide clear foundation for such a claim.
The results of recent research indicate a marked positive effect of the use of 3D animations on learning, recall and performance in tests. Under experimental conditions, 86% of pupils improved from the pre-test to the post-test in the 3D classes, compared to only 52% who improved in the 2D classes. Within the individuals who improved, the rate of improvement was also much greater in the classes with the 3D. Individuals improved test scores by an average of 17% in the 3D classes, compared to only an 8% improvement in the 2D classes between pre-test and post-test.
The marked improvement in test scores was also supported by qualitative data that showed that 100% of teachers agreed or strongly agreed that 3D animations in the classroom made the children understand things better, and 100% of teachers agreed or strongly agreed that the pupils discovered new things in 3D learning that they did not know before. The teachers commented that the pupils in the 3D groups had deeper understanding, increased attention span, more motivation and higher engagement.
And since virtual reality is much more sophisticated and immersive way to deliver 3D content, there’s a quite fair assumption the impact can be even bigger.
Impacts Beyond K-12 Education
Ever since the VR boom started, there is a growing number of various use cases in many fields apart from gaming. Recently, the New York Times sent Google Cardboard viewers to 1.3 million people and released a film, The Displaced, about children caught up in the global refugee crisis. The newspaper is now producing regular VR content through a new division, NYT VR. Other news organizations have followed suit, such as ABC News VR, where a correspondent leads tours of places in the news.
Journalists aren’t the only ones using VR to take people places. Respected organizations like NASA and National Geographic are producing VR content that’s useful in the classroom, and much of it is free. NASA videos allow students to take field trips to Mars; the Guggenheim Museum VR lets students replicate a walkthrough of the famous New York art museum’s galleries. YouTube 360 provides content made by people all over the world, including a tour of the Large Hadron Collider (the world’s largest particle collider located near Geneva, Switzerland), along with an explanation provided by the BBC News.
Or as Mark Zuckerberg himself shared his vision: “This is just the start. After games, we're going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences. Imagine enjoying a courtside seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face— just by putting on this device in your home…”
Colleges and universities are also getting in on the VR action. It starts with helping students decide what school to attend to medical schools which are integrating VR into surgery and medical student training. Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, Calif., has opened a first-of-its-kind center that allows students to learn through VR. Architecture is another area where VR shows clear potential. The University of Minnesota College of Design uses a motion-capture system to offer students a way to evaluate decisions, construction details and other factors before a design is realized.
Lifeliqe bringing VR into education
In 2016, Lifeliqe recognized the possible impact of VR in education and after a short period of exploration, it was chosen by HTC Vive to become its strategic partner for education. By September that year, Lifeliqe launched its first VR app, the Lifeliqe VR Museum, which was downloaded more than 25,000 times by the end of 2016. The company also launched number of pilot projects resulting in stating clear benefits of using it in education. In 2017, Lifeliqe launched a full version of the app with over 1,000 interactive 3D models, which serves as a great extension to its core app with 6 digital science curricula and over 700 lesson plans. Lifeliqe curriculum is now available as web app, meaning it’s available on any device your school uses including Chromebooks, PC, tablets, interactive whiteboards and many others.
In cooperation with teachers and school librarians, Lifeliqe has also recognized the growing trend of the use of VR in US school libraries that are transforming their traditional mission of storing knowledge into providing spaces that foster creativity and making. By partnering with Unity Technologies, Lifeliqe will allow students to publish their 3D creations right into VR on Lifeliqe platform.
So overall, there’s quite a few reasons to believe that VR really can make a change in education. With growing tech literacy and prices of VR dropping, there’s a good chance VR will become a common tool in the classrooms in near future.