Advanced visual simulation technologies have gone mainstream and are now available to consumers and educators alike. Rather than being physical simulators, these systems generate visualizations of three-dimensional objects and immersive environments that users can interact with using a variety of devices. The technologies have rapidly matured over the past two years and continue to quickly evolve.
Instead of being physically tethered to high-power computers, the next generation of devices will be stand-alone with integrated processors, or units that are capable of connecting to mobile phones to provide the computational might. This fundamental design change will further aid in promoting VR/AR/MR, allowing students to participate with devices they already own. This will reduce costs for educational institutions and re-define what a simulation laboratory is and how it is structured. Several different approaches exist including virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) from companies such as Samsung, Oculus and Microsoft. Virtual reality is currently the most prevalent and affordable. Products vary greatly in price and features. Google Cardboard and the Samsung Gear VR are a great place to start and cost under $100. Higher-end devices, such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, offer greater capabilities but are also much more costly ($600-$700). VR fully immerses the user allowing for a completely novel perspective. Two practical uses of this technology include 360 degree video and virtual models. Cameras such as the Samsung Gear 360 and Ricoh Theta capture video in all directions, giving learners the ability to explore an experience as if they were physically present. Virtual models and simulations, created from scratch or from CT/MR data, can be viewed in an immersive, web-based environment such as Sketchfab. As these solutions continue to evolve, educators will be able to harness their potential to create high-fidelity simulation experiences for students.
Poster presented at the 5th International Veterinary Simulation in Teaching Conference, 10-12 April 2017, held at the Intundla Conference Venue, Pretoria, South Africa.
InVeST Proceedings 201726 Proceedings of the 5th International Veterinary Simulation in Teaching Conference held by the Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, 10-12 April 2017, Intundla Conference Venue, Pretoria, South Africa.