We sat virtually and had a discussion with the founder of Unimersiv, the first immersive education platform available on GearVR (and soon on the Oculus Rift and other headset), about the future of VR for education and academies. Here are a few question we asked to Baptiste Greve, it's CEO :
Like many, you seem to have been seduced by « VR »
at first sight, but you’ve chosen to approach it from a different angle, that
of education and academy. Can you tell us how Unimersiv came to be ?
One of the first VR app that I used on the Oculus Rift was Titans of Space from DrashVR. After spending a moment exploring our Solar System from planet to planet it seemed obvious to me that this technology had the potential to revolutionize education. The complete immersion in a virtual environment enhances our concentration and greatly helps with remembering the experience better.
So I decided to launch the Unimersiv platform to showcase the different educational experiences created by VR developers.
Unimersiv started by gathering a community around
educational VR experiences. What seems to be the the vision that is most share
and the trends for VR and AR education ?
Indeed, Unimersiv started as a simple web platform that allowed our users to discover the latest educational immersive experiences for the Oculus Rift. We are now evolving towards the creation of a VR-based platform for educational content. We just released the first version of our VR platform on the Oculus Store for the Gear VR.
I’d say that since we launched Unimersiv we saw a real interest from VR users to discover historical landmarks. The Apollo 11 experience that met a huge success is a good example of that, people dreamt about experiencing the moon landing of 1969 and now they can ! Our app Coloseum VR was used by several hundreds of people who wanted to visit the Coliseum has it stand 2000 years ago. It’s simply incredible to be able to revisit these sites as they were using Virtual Reality.
Can you tell us more on the Unimersiv app you recently launched on
the GearVR store and what are its goals?
We recently launched the Unimersiv app for the Samsung Gear VR and it will be available soon for the Oculus Rift. The Unimersiv app give access to 3 immersive experiences that were developed internally to showcase the possibilities of VR for education. Our goal is to open the platform to other developers in the future.
VR users have shown a deep interest for educational experiences and our goal is to establish Unimersiv as the main VR platform for these experiences. We will publish more and more content in the coming months to achieve this goal. We want to publish 10 to 12 educational experiences on the Unimersiv app by the end of the year. Some will be free and others will be sold using in-app purchases.
Virtual Reality adds a layer of immersion, characterized by the
depth, spatial or localized information and knowledge. What do you think are VR’s
advantage for students, teachers and institutions in education?
There are several advantages in being completely immersed in the educational environment, for example there is no external perturbations in Virtual Reality, thus attention is increased. Then the immersive presence inside historical events is way more convincing than simply reading a book or looking at pictures.
For schools and universities this means that the teacher will be able to “teleport” a whole class in a particular period of History. They will be able to interact in live with the surroundings of the Roman Coliseum while the course is being delivered, which is revolutionary!
For now we are mainly targeting people and enthusiasts who posses a VR headset at home, but eventually we will propose our apps to schools that are disposed to access and use it.
What do you think will be the impact of VR and AR
for education and academies at large?
Well the first stake is the cost of adoption of VR headsets for schools, which varies between $1500 for a single Oculus/Vive + PC system and $500 minimum for a good mobile VR system.
And then, there’s content. There are not that many high quality educational experiences available now, and we’ll have to wait for a few more years before having a VR curriculum numerous enough to be worth the investment, though acquisition cost will probably have decreased by then.
The impact of such tool inside classroom and the immersion it provides will probably have a really positive effect when students will start learning about the human body anatomy or the History of the world in VR!
One of the ways academy has been evolving on the
web with Khan Academy, Udemy or new institutions like Ecole 42 is geared toward
a crowd-source curriculum which evolved in real-time and can be implemented by
different sources. Where do you see VR fitting in these new environments?
right now, VR pipeline imply the same difficult as with the development of any
3D application, so for now it is not as easy as editing a Wikipedia entry or a
course on Udemy. However with some time, we should see the arrival of new tools that will make VR creation much easier.
Some platforms such as Beloola or Vizor enable users to create experiences
without the need of technical background.
What’s next for the future of Unimersiv in
months and years to come?
We are continually developing and releasing new educational experiences on the Unimersiv app to make it a must-have of the Oculus Store. Our users are really happy with our Gear VR app and we are now aiming for investment and fundraising in order to accelerate our development! Then, a new Titanic experience is coming later in June to Unimersiv.
The Unimersiv app is available on the Oculus Store for the Samsung Gear VR. You can download it for free and try-out the 3 educational experiences available on the platform.
Baptiste Grève, founder & CEO of Unimersiv (contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org)