A new virtual reality program, designed in part for educators, is giving a whole new meaning to the virtual classroom.
Compatible with VR platforms like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, the new program, called Engage, lets up to 30 simultaneous users join and interact in an immersive, virtual meeting — which could be set in a museum, historical site, or the surface of Mars.
The platform is new (and available as a free preview) so full functionality hasn’t been released, or even dreamed up, but so far educators can use it to create a custom avatar and then host live sessions or record presentations for download. Students will also be able to showcase artwork and photography in a gallery-like setting.
A handful of features are included with the initial release:
A mission to Mars: This small mini mission follows the Curiosity Rover as it lands on the surface of Mars. Once it has landed you can interact with the rover to learn more about its mission or you can freely explore the Martian surface and find other Martian rovers.
Two sample lessons, one on the history of science and another, set on a pier, on how to sink a target using a simple ballistic trajectory equation.
Two virtual galleries. Featuring 3D objects, the historically-themed galleries (one features a 3D model of the Titanic) are designed to eventually host student or other artwork.
Various virtual spaces. Locations include a meeting room, lecture hall, Dino Beach, shallow water, moon base, Martian surface, gallery space and hub spaces. Some spaces have interactive whiteboards and video screens for streaming content.
Streaming Services. This early build allows users to stream in video content from YouTube and also link to your Dropbox and Microsoft One Drive accounts.
Immersive Video. Engage includes two examples of streamed-in YouTube content, enhanced via the platform’s IFX system. The examples included are a dinosaur video and shark video from YouTube channel SciShow.