One of the best things about my job in the Digital Learning team is that I get to play/test new technology to enhance learning. One new emerging technology is the Oculus Go Virtual Reality headset.
In the past we have built and tested 360 videos on our existing Gear VR, using our own personal Samsung mobile phones. Because not everyone owns a Samsung mobile we thought that the Oculus Go headsets would be the way forward as these encompass a built-in screen (so a mobile phone is not required), and also have 64 GB of data.
We wanted to create a Virtual Field trip that would immerse the viewer into the learning environment. They would be able to listen to narration, explore, click on objects to view accompanying videos and information, and engage in quizzes.
For this I used a few short 360 videos, which were shot using the Go Pro Omni, from a recent Biological Science field trip to Bolonia, Southern Spain.
The 360 videos were then stitched together using Kolor Autopano Video and exported as VR supported video files.
I used Unity games engine to build the project. I am a relatively new user to Unity and not very proficient with systems or scripting, so this was a steep learning curve, but I found the following YouTube videos a great help.
The most difficult step was using Android Studio, to decide which Software Development Kit (SDK) to install and linking up Unity with the installed Android SDK. After many hours of head scratching and binging on YouTube videos, I finally managed to produced and download a working version of 360 video on my phone to test on the Samsung Gear VR.
I thought that I would have to go through the same hurdles when we switched over to Oculus Go but in fact it was easier with the help of these two tutorials:
Although the finished version is just the initial stage of our VR journey, we are going to showcase what we have produced so far at the University Open Day 8th–9th September, to get initial reaction and feedback and hopefully develop this project further in time for October Open Day.
Please feel free to contact the Digital Learning team if you would like to try out the 360 field trip on the Oculus Go VR headset – we will be very happy to demo and share what we have learnt so far.