Monday, July 4, 2016

Simple VR Content Creation

A huge challenge right now with VR in education is the lack of educational content.  One of the most prolific uses of the technology right now in schools is the VR field trip.  Google has recently made it's Expeditions available for download which is exciting if one of their prepared field trips matches what you're learning.  For the other 99% of compelling experiences that we might wish to have in the classroom, there are some free and easy tools that can be used to create your own 360° photos.  Imagine you are vacationing over the summer or over the weekend you go to see an art exhibit that relates to the content you teach in your class.  Most newer smartphones have the capability of stitching together a 360 photosphere by taking multiple pictures from different angles.

To get the idea of how this works, it is probably easiest to download an app and start trying it for yourself.  Many of the new Samsung phones have a free camera plugin called "Surround Shot" that will walk you through the steps of creating a 360° photo.  iOS users can use the the Google Street View app to access a photosphere function as well.

Once you've snapped your 360° photo, simply load it into a compatible viewer for google cardboard, Gear VR, Oculus, Vive, etc.  The Oculus 360° Photo app works great on Gear VR and the Oculus Rift.  

*Pro Tip: Use a tripod with your phone and turn off any advanced features such as flash, white balance, autofocus in order to get the best results.

You could also check out this quick Instructable by DivideWorks if you're still having trouble wrapping your brain around the technique.  If you want to test out a simple 360° photo, try this one of my empty lab at school.