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zSpace: to boldly go where no 3D VR/AR education tool has gone before.

HP has made a prac­ti­cal VR/AR tool for edu­ca­tors, sci­en­tists, and oth­er pro­fes­sion­als that need high fideli­ty sim­u­lat­ed inter­ac­tions with com­put­er-gen­er­at­ed mod­els. They call it the Zyr dis­play, which incor­po­rates four cam­eras for head-track­ing, a ful­ly gyro­scop­ic sty­lus that allows for both pre­cise point­ing and true 3D manip­u­la­tion of objects, and a 3D dis­play that uses spe­cial glass­es. To top that off they have also cre­at­ed a soft­ware called Zview for shar­ing Zyr 3D content.

Now a start­up by the name of zSpace, which is a lead­ing-edge tech­nol­o­gy provider that is deliv­er­ing a new way of learn­ing focused on STEM edu­ca­tion, med­ical instruc­tion, cor­po­rate train­ing and research, zSpace inspires and accel­er­ates under­stand­ing through immer­sive explo­ration. zSpace (jobs at zSpace) is a pri­vate­ly held, ven­ture backed com­pa­ny locat­ed in Sun­ny­vale, CA, and has filed more than 30 patents for its inno­v­a­tive technologies.

When you put on the glass­es, images appear in 3‑D. Cam­eras on the screen track the user’s head move­ment, let­ting them move clos­er to get a bet­ter view of objects. The sty­lus lets users pick up things and see them from every angle. The result is an expe­ri­ence that feels nat­ur­al, and pre­cise enough that it could be a learn­ing tool for fields that require a detailed under­stand­ing of com­plex phys­i­cal objects, such as anato­my or mechan­i­cal engineering.

What dif­fer­en­ti­ates the Zyr pow­ered zSpace dis­play from ges­ture-based VR inter­faces, like those pow­ered by Leap Motion or Microsoft’s Kinect, which suf­fer from a lack of pre­ci­sion, is the inte­grat­ed 3D sty­lus. The need for a sty­lus does lim­it the uses for the Zvr. HP (jobs at Hewlett Packard) and Zspace are posi­tion­ing the dis­play pri­mar­i­ly for sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy relat­ed dis­ci­plines — espe­cial­ly for teach­ing them.

It uses lots of pow­er, you need an HP Z‑Series (or sim­i­lar) work­sta­tion to run it and its large size makes it unsuit­able for any type of mobile appli­ca­tion. Sim­i­lar to the Nin­ten­do 3DS, if you are not in the mon­i­tors “sweet spot” you don’t receive the high qual­i­ty 3D vision. So look­ing over someone’s shoul­ders would be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive, but at the helm, total crisp and vir­tu­al immersion.

At dozens of schools across Amer­i­ca, includ­ing 11 K‑12 dis­tricts in Cal­i­for­nia, schools are adopt­ing zSpace, A set of 12 sta­tions costs schools $50,000–70,000 for hard­ware, soft­ware, pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment and sup­port ser­vices for teach­ers. The sys­tem isn’t lim­it­ed to the sci­ences. The sta­tions include pro­grams for teach­ing evo­lu­tion, elec­tron­ics and history.

Since it’s so new, schools have yet to track whether the tech­nol­o­gy improves class­room results.
For stu­dents at Teasley Mid­dle School in Geor­gia, vir­tu­al real­i­ty has become very real. Already serv­ing about a thou­sand stu­dents at Teasley, the pro­gram is slat­ed to expand to one of the district’s high schools for the com­ing school year. The entic­ing zSpace is being used as a sup­ple­ment to the reg­u­lar sci­ence curriculum.

Leah Bleisath, the sci­ence depart­ment chair at Teasley, where stu­dents run the gamut from advanced learn­ers to stu­dents with spe­cial needs, said the kids are flour­ish­ing. “zSpace appeals to all types of stu­dent needs,” said Bleisath. “One stu­dent told me he loved to take things apart in zSpace and not get in trou­ble for it. I’ve seen stu­dents with lim­it­ed Eng­lish gain con­fi­dence. It gets them excit­ed about school, and increas­es their chances of going to the next level.”

zSpace’s direc­tor of edu­ca­tion­al solu­tions, Eliz­a­beth Lytle says “We see our­selves as dif­fer­en­ti­at­ed from the head-mount­ed dis­plays because of the abil­i­ty for the stu­dents to work togeth­er and col­lab­o­rate… with­out hav­ing some­thing cov­er their face.”

And now a com­pa­ny by the name of Blue­drop has become the first Cana­di­an Dis­trib­u­tor of zSpace Real World Vir­tu­al Real­i­ty, a part­ner­ship to bring an immer­sive vir­tu­al real­i­ty learn­ing envi­ron­ment, to Cana­da. Locat­ed in Atlantic Cana­da, Blue­drop intends to offer the zSpace Labs sys­tem for train­ing Cana­di­an oper­a­tors and main­tain­ers of com­plex equip­ment.  It will allow main­te­nance work­ers to safe­ly and cost effec­tive­ly learn high­ly chal­leng­ing tasks that are often expen­sive, time con­sum­ing and dan­ger­ous to teach in the real world. Trainees can apply the skills learned through zSpace seam­less­ly onto equip­ment in the field.

“We are pleased to now offer this unique and inno­v­a­tive prod­uct which inte­grates very well with our cur­rent prod­uct line and lever­ages our 3D con­tent,” said Carl Daniels, Vice Pres­i­dent of Busi­ness Devel­op­ment, Blue­drop Train­ing & Sim­u­la­tion Inc. “We see great poten­tial with­in the defense mar­ket and are hon­ored zSpace chose Blue­drop to offer their excep­tion­al prod­uct to Canadians.”

“With this part­ner­ship, we are excit­ed to dis­cov­er new indus­tri­al mar­kets in Cana­da and pro­mote zSpace as a pow­er­ful train­ing and sim­u­la­tion tool,” said Paul Kel­len­berg­er, CEO of zSpace, Inc. “we are con­fi­dent 3D visu­al­iza­tion in the work­force is a nat­ur­al fit for zSpace and trust that Blue­drop is the right partner”

Talk about the future, com­pa­nies are chang­ing the way we learn with AR/VR that can tran­scend the class­room into almost every aspect of our lives. We haven’t even wit­nessed what the mil­i­tary or adver­tis­ing mar­keters could do with this once they get their meaty claws into it. Take advan­tage and inves­ti­gate one of these sys­tems. It could help you find a job.

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