Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Delving into App Development for VR

After starting out last year with a Gear VR in my classroom, it became apparent fairly early on that virtual fieldtrips were not all that VR had to offer.  In search of a more academic experience in virtual reality we stumbled upon this little gem of a website put out by Samsung and geared towards developers.
http://www.samsung.com/us/samsungdeveloperconnection/developer-resources/gear-vr.html

It is probably worth mentioning that content has been added recently to this page, probably to reflect Samsung's release of a 360° camera in its lineup of virtual reality wares.

The specific set of tutorials with which my 8th grade students had relative success were the exercises devoted to developing Apps and Games with Game Engines.  These tutorials walk the user through the following steps:
  • setting up the development environment with Android SDK and Unity
  • getting familiar with workflow and interface of Unity and creating a project
  • using downloadable assets and simple scripts to make a 360° photo viewer for Android.
  • building out the app and pushing it to your device for use on the Samsung Gear VR
Initial thoughts?  Awesome, what a way to bring some of the concepts of the technology classroom into real-world application.  The groups who attempted these tutorials gained a much better understanding of filesystem structures and were even able to extend their rudimentary understanding of coding by learning some basics about scripts in Unity.

What next?  This initial tutorial could even be the basis to a VR app development course devoted to creating simple apps in Unity.  I'm super excited to get my kids thinking in this direction as I see VR to be a big part of their future technology and want to see them begin to develop the skillset.

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