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.