Backpacks are taking over the shelves, crayons are lining the aisles, and teachers are prepping for the annual challenge of keeping their students engaged. It looks like back-to-school season is underway – and since it’s that time of year, we want to highlight how Unity and mixed reality (MR) are transforming education as we know it. Now put on your thinking caps and get ready to learn.
Started by Kai Frazier, Kai XR was created to combat the growing digital divide. As a former educator in Washington, D.C., Kai was frustrated with the lack of resources dedicated to school outings, so she took matters into her own hands.
Kai brought monuments and historical sites straight to the classroom with a 360° camera. Since first documenting D.C, the Kai XR platform has grown to include over 100 virtual field trips, from the Egyption pyramids to the Great Barrier Reef. Today, students can also use the app to explore 3D design with Makerspace, which introduces them to the metaverse.
In Colorado Springs, Sean Wybrant’s nonprofit, Crafting Heroes, welcomes just over 150 kids to the District 11 High School XR Labs every day – a place for them to create their own immersive experiences. The majority come in without any coding knowledge, and leave with the ability to land competitive jobs down the road. Sean’s mission is to inspire kids to think bigger about their futures so they have more opportunities to choose from.
The project-based program partners with nonprofits to create educational XR exhibits. Just last April, Sean and his students were asked to collaborate on a project with the Space Foundation for the 37th Annual Space Symposium. With the HoloLens 2, the Crafting Heroes students created HoloQuest: Space, a holographic experience that lets viewers interact with 3D models from NASA, aquaponics systems, and astronaut gear. It even includes a section on the James Webb Space Telescope, the Perseverance Rover, and the Ingenuity Helicopter. Since its debut, the exhibit has been presented to space educators around the world and has even been featured in a TEDx talk.
Interested in volunteering? Connect with Sean.
Over the past decade, a struggle shared by companies all over the world lies in the “skills gap.” This mismatch between the skills that job seekers have and those required by employers searching for candidates results in difficulties on both fronts. In 2021, McKinsey reported that 87% of companies are aware they have or will have a skills gap.
That’s where Transfr comes in. By using VR, they help fill the gap with creative classroom-to-career pathways. Their mission is to give anyone interested the opportunity to find a fulfilling job that’s also in demand. The platform includes training across automotive, construction, and medical industries, among others, and has been used by government agencies and businesses alike.
With support from creative agency OutHere, one of the world’s largest construction companies, Skanska, added highly realistic VR scenarios to its safety training program. The aim? To raise awareness and reduce work-related accidents.
According to the study, employees are 73% more aware of site risks thanks to VR training on operating construction equipment and other risky procedures.
Can you use augmented reality (AR) to cultivate empathy? The team at Sixth Sense firmly believes that you can. Coming together during the XR Brain Jam, Lucas Wozniak, Julia Scott, Yiting Liu, Destiny Guzman, and Tina Lian decided to use AR to help people better understand schizophrenia. The team created a simulation to educate first responders, mental health professionals, and family members on some of the most challenging aspects of schizophrenia.
Using Unity, Magic Leap, and Google Dialogflow, the team created an AR experience that simulates what it feels like to walk through an ordinary setting with psychosis symptoms. Under the guidance of a friend, the user encounters objects that trigger auditory hallucinations. These include paranoid and self-deprecating thoughts, as well as subliminal messages. After the experience, the user comes away with a better understanding of the condition and increased respect for those who face it on a daily basis.
In the words of founders Ferhan Ozkan and Rahel Demant, XR Bootcamp takes you from “zero to hero.” Their suite of master classes is designed to take anyone from complete novice to advanced XR professional, with support from experienced trainers and mentors, including professionals from Ubisoft, Facebook, HTC Vive, Oracle, Volkswagen, and more.
In addition to their classes, XR bootcamp has cultivated an impressive alumni community, made up of members from Microsoft, Riot Games, Autodesk, IBM, Magic Leap, and yes, even Unity! This active group has access to an exclusive Discord with further opportunities for revenue, user testing, and expert research.
Recently named one of the best universities to learn metaverse skills by Forbes, Michigan State University has a rich history of game design and development, placing students at Rockstar, Blizzard, and Insomniac, among other major studios. We caught up with professor Jeremy Gibson Bond to hear more about their gamedev program.
Jeremy has been teaching game design for 21 years and will be releasing the third edition of his top-selling textbook later this year. While tinkering with emerging technologies, he and his wife recently created StagePresence, an XR app that enables theatrical set design students to preview their sets in AR.
In his classes, Jeremy introduces students to both visual scripting and C#, and is always amazed by what they can create after just a single semester. Their early successes often catapult them into more advanced courses in the program. More specifically, students interested in the metaverse can move toward classes on building virtual worlds – and thanks to a generous grant from Meta, this year’s students will be able to develop with new Quest headsets.