In 2016 we wrote about some of the top companies working in the AR/VR education space, but since then there have been many interesting developments.
Today, we’re seeing teachers actually integrate AR/VR into their lesson plans, completely transforming the classroom experience. Gone are the days when a teacher is standing at the front of the classroom reciting a 60-minute speech. With AR/VR, students can see the solar system right in the middle of their classroom or be transported to the Colosseum in ancient Rome!
We’ve refreshed our list and provided a brief overview and updates on some of the top companies working in the AR/VR education space.
zSpace is continuing to make an impact in the VR/AR education space, standing out in this industry due to the unique all-in-one AR/VR laptop with content that can be manipulated with a stylus pen. When used in classrooms, kids all have access to the zSpace glasses, which allow for individual and collaborative learning experiences. zSpace is now located in over 800 school districts in North America with over 1M users. Educators who have used the tool report higher levels of student interaction and engagement with the educational content. Educators also believe that this has led to better understanding of the material, and, correspondingly, improved grades for students.
Google Expeditions Pioneer Program
Google Expeditions allows teachers to act as guides, leading their students through expeditions all over the world (and even outside of this world!). Google Expeditions has definitely expanded since 2016, and now has over 900 VR experiences available for classroom exploration. In the future, Google expects to provide students with the tools to create their own VR expeditions. This will not only increase the amount of content available to other users, but also teach students how to create their own immersive content and use editing software.
Google has also added AR Expeditions, allowing students to use almost any Android or iOS device to make life-sized virtual objects appear in their own classrooms. Kids can walk around and explore the digital objects, interacting with them from different angles – bringing abstract concepts (like Da Vinci’s inventions) to life.
Nearpod is an organization aimed at transforming teaching by providing ready-to-teach K-12 lessons delivered through VR and interactive digital content. Nearpod offers a number of educational solutions, including pre-made lessons that can sync to student devices, options to customize lessons (e.g adding polls or quizzes), AR enhancements and over 500 VR lessons. The vast array of content is being updated all the time, and with so much content, it’s no surprise that this all-in-one instructional software is being used in 3 out of 5 school districts.
Merge Virtual Reality creates products and experiences targeted for kids 10 and up. They want to create products that make kids smarter, more creative, and more collaborative. They offer innovative experiences that are being used in the classroom – for example, a Merge Cube – a “hologram you can hold in your hand” which can display, and allow interaction with, objects like the human heart, an aquarium or the solar system. They design durable, kid-friendly products (bright colored headsets made out of soft material) and their content and headset will work with almost any smartphone.
VR Education is a software company aiming to provide educators with the tools they need to create their own content in virtual classrooms. The ENGAGE platform in particular can simulate a lecture hall in VR—allowing educators to create specialized lessons and enabling people from all over the world to engage virtually in a multi-user environment from anywhere in the world! The platform allows educators to create their own content, use existing environments, and record or share sessions. The ENGAGE platform is currently free to use for social education and presentation purposes.
Discovery, well-known for storytelling and visual experiences, continues to bring some of their best content to virtual reality. Through their Discovery VR app, some of the world’s most thrilling and interesting natural experiences are available in a variety of formats: via mobile app, mobile headset or tethered headset. By bringing some of their most popular content like Shark Week to VR, they are attracting more people to the VR space. And of course, their VR experiences are filled with exciting and educational documentaries.
Alchemy VR is creating breath-taking immersive educational stories. For example, some stories allow viewers to follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin across the Galapagos, deep dive beneath the Great Barrier Reef next to David Attenborough, and descend from the International Space Station! These experiences are so compelling that one of their stories won a BAFTA award (the British equivalent to the Academy Awards). Alchemy VR truly stands out through the high-quality experiences they produce and the number of partners they have (including Google Expeditions), creating engaging and educational experiences for all ages.
EON Reality is looking to change how teachers use technology to learn. Creator AVR, designed by EON Reality, is an interactive tool that allows users to combine 3D content with videos, sound effects, notes, powerpoint and more. It is customizable to the user’s needs and has a vast library of information to pull from on various topics, ranging from the structure of the human ear to a helicopter engine. EON Reality believes in the transformative power of experiential learning using AR/VR, which they believe will lead to faster learning, higher level of knowledge transfer, and attention through greater level of engagement.
Unimersiv is a VR learning platform that is dedicated to creating educational content on a wide range of topics. Their mission is to help students of all ages learn faster using virtual reality, and want to use VR to help students access impossible places (like inside of the human brain!). They are one of the largest platforms for VR education content, frequently releasing updates and new content, and are available on all major VR headsets.
Curiscope is a company that wants to inspire kids to develop a love for science. Their signature product, an augmented reality t-shirt (the “virtuali-tee”) allows one user to wear the tee while others can launch the app and learn about the human body under the skin! The app/tee provides 3D learning experiences to explore the circulatory, respiratory, and digestive systems with immersive 360 videos, and Curiscope continues to make updates and improvements (e.g. kids can now track their heart rate, allowing for the digital heart to pump in-sync with their physical heart rate). Kids and educators around the globe are loving this unique AR approach to anatomy lessons.