"Every once in a while, a new technology, a classic problem, and a major idea turn into the invention ." -- Dean Kamen
Humanity's technological and medical progress, when positioned within the broader context of human history, is still astonishing. In less than 200 years -- roughly 0.001% of humanity's time on earth -- we have invented myriad techniques for detecting, treating and even eradicating diseases that after wiped our ancestors out from the millions.
Nevertheless, healthcare technologies like X-ray imaging, anesthesia, vaccines, immunotherapy, and countless others may soon be considered the progress of older. Promising new technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are likely to reshape every aspect of our lives, from exercising and shopping into working and learning.
The expression "virtual reality" often conjures images of players sitting in front of a screen. However, this technology includes hundreds of practical applications beyond amusement, and it's particularly useful for STEM students of all backgrounds and disciplines.
Indeed, VR is already transforming our world and raising our aptitude for treating and diagnosing disease. Neuroscientists in Cambridge are now testing VR's efficiency at discovering navigational problems in patients prone to developing Alzheimer's disease. Some mental health professionals have used VR to take care of patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety and more. Physicians and surgeons around the globe rely upon VR to soothe and divert anxious patients, plan complicated surgeries, and rehabilitate stroke victims and those with head injuries.
The Times Are Changing
Technologies such as AR and VR might appear fresh, but in fact, they have been around for decades. Medical professionals and engineers alike have used VR from the 1990s.
As VR continues to evolve and become commonplace, higher education and industry are catching up. Undergraduate courses in AR and VR are now available at many UK universities, including the University of Portsmouth and Solent University. The University of London also offers a Master's programme at Immersive Technology.
AR and VR level programmes are definitely not exclusive to UK higher education. Universities around the world are catching on, with the US at the forefront. Dozens of universities from Seattle to Sydney currently provide VR design classes, equipping students with the theoretical and practical tools to develop this emerging EdTech for its entire potential.
How AR and VR are employed in STEM education and businesses
In order for VR technologies to realize their entire potential, we need fully-trained, highly-skilled virtual reality universe designers. Universities across the UK have added virtual reality systems design courses to their curricula, including Staffordshire University, University of London and also Solent University, one of a handful of others.
Particularly, the Virtual Environments and Computer Graphics Group (VECG) at University College London, which manages the university's most immersive virtual environments laboratory, investigates the real-world issues involved with successfully executing VR technologies within the broader population. Students of the course will explore methods to boost manufacturing, visibility, and realism within virtual worlds to make them effective and accessible for ordinary folks.
In VECG's words,'our ultimate aim is a theory of virtual reality: to create it"work" in a given program context and also with given resources.'
Why send astronauts on risky expeditions in the distance when free programs like Titans of Space allow pupils to explore the solar system? Why cut open a cadaver when pupils can"walkabout" within the human body together with Anatomy? Why purchase a set of microscopes when students can tour human cells utilizing MoleculE VR?
Whilst space exploration, real dissection, along with microscopic imaging are commonplace and absolutely crucial, the programs of AR and VR in mathematics are infinite.
The University of Almería at Spain has created a VR programme called NeoTrie VR, which allows maths pupils to make 3D geometric shapes and versions that they can subsequently alter within the digital world.
VR also provides the greatest space for innovation and creativity, allowing maths students to bend the laws of physics to make'non-Euclidean' virtual worlds. Industry leaders predict such experimentation could reveal new mathematical processes and result in brand-new discoveries about our world.
Airplane and auto manufacturers, including Boeing, Peugeot, and Ford, have virtual reality centers in which they look and test prototypes. This enables manufacturers to address potential flaws before the designs reach the mill floor, cutting costs, reducing time, and increasing collaboration among everyone involved in the process.
VR also enables engineers to deconstruct their prototypes to experiment and study with their individual parts, a process that's tricky at best with physical models. The UK's top architect firms will also be implementing VR technologies in their design procedures as well as client communication and coordination.
In The Future: Full Immersion And Execution
Just how long will it take for these technologies to become commonplace in education and in our everyday lives? Only time will tell.
But it's important to bear in mind that these emerging educational technologies are still evolving; specialists forecast that it may take a lot of years before we attain full immersion. Even so, UK schools are investing in these new technologies, and UK universities are revising their curricula to meet the requirements of a rapidly-developing business.
Not only can AR and VR revolutionize the learning procedure for STEM pupils of all ages, but it can also be utilized to educate new hires. Well-taught students then become well-trained workers who possess the skills needed to change our world in a way our 'Euclidean' brains can only imagine.