November 25, 2013

Circle 3D Application (2)

In our last post, we introduced our Future-Talk 3D readers to "circle 3D." In this posting, we will address some of the potential educational applications for volumetric 3D.

Headquartered in Ames (IA) with a team in L.A, MICOY’s mission is to evolve the spherical 3D Market (volumetric stereo). Their ultimate goal, offers CEO Pierce, is “to create a platform for developers to build applications in all types of markets.” 

The use cases for this technology are myriad. Beyond the obvious applications within the gaming and entertainment industry, MICOY sees a real role for volumetric 3D within medical education. He believes that volumetric 3D will soon be used to provide physical therapy, treat depression, and support those suffering with PTSD. Pierce tells the story of a friend, a former NFL player, who was in an accident that left the athlete quadriplegic. Pierce placed a prototype virtual reality helmet on his friend and allowed his friend to virtually run down a bicycle path in a park, showing some live action footage they had shot. “When we took the helmet off his head, tears were running down his cheek,” The formal NFL player cried “ I haven’t sensed and had the feeling of motion since before my accident, and you just had me running through the park.”

Pierce also sees the potential for engineering departments, design and manufacturing teams, and molecular scientists to be able to ‘sculpt’ designs, parts, or biomolecules in real time 3D.

Of course, the educational applications for this technology are legion. MICOY has their eye firmly set on virtual reality training simulations, including high-stakes training that can save lives by putting anyone inside a physical environment at any time.
In terms of K12 and post-graduate education, my mind also races with the possibilities. Imagine being lifted out of your current reality and being transported into the middle of a cacophonous room in Independence Hall in the sweltering heat of the first few days of July in 1776. The debate and eventual ratification of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress occurs all around you. Gone is the fourth wall. You are now part of the intense arguments, negotiations, and compromises that came out of that room to touch history.

None of this is really “pie in the sky.” I’ve been to the dome, been in the dome, and I’ve seen this technology first hand. 

November 18, 2013

Circle 3D

When I first saw it in L.A., my thoughts quickly raced towards the educational implications of “Circle 3D”. I entered the spherical dome in front of me, and I was suddenly picked up and literally whisked out of this world to a fascinating micro-universe. Ushered into the subatomic world inside the aging bones of a senior adult suffering with osteoporosis, a disease of the bone, I felt like I was becoming a part of the movie “Fantastic Voyage”—on a personally immersive level.            
The immersive stereoscopic 3D experience that so enveloped me was not just in front of me, on a typical flat screen. No, it was all around me. Above me. On my left side. On my right. Behind me. Somehow, it voluminously filled even my peripheral vision. I was there. No, it was here—some of the subatomic particles were now floating just above my lap. Now that was up-close learning!
Next, I found myself flying through the air on a helicopter, landing on an oil platform in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. The simulation was breathtaking. The technology was providing a panoramic image, seamlessly stitched.

This surreal experience was created inside a unique dome structure, a spherical portable planetarium theater. Developed by a group of partners led by the MICOY Corporation, this technology can be described as “omni-directional 3D immersive imagery.” It can also be called spherical 3D or 360° 3D. Don Pierce, the CEO and President of MICOY, explains: “Volumetric Stereo 3d allows us to paint on a new canvas, to play on a whole new playground; it enhances visualization to the next generation.”  Pierce, who got his start when computer animation first began to be integrated into visual effects remarked: “It’s so exciting to be on the edge; to see the direction in which visualization is going.”

Volumetric stereo places the user inside the game or experience; and it is totally interactive. Pierce comfortably jests: “We should have a head start on the closest thing to the holodeck, minus tactile feeling, of course.” Pierce also believes that MICOY technology offers another unique advantage: imagine creating a stereo environment with no headaches, no convergence point, no planes, just a natural volumetric environment. “Stereo is not just in front of you from the screen, but coming from all around you,” he explains.

November 11, 2013

A Swedish Success Story

There are a lot of good things happening with educational 3D across the country, yet I find that most of the great stories about 3D in classrooms somehow seem to fly under the radar. Yes, good things are in fact happening, but often no one knows about them. That’s because educators rarely toot their own horn; it’s also because the education industry is highly isolated and successful programs are often geographically pigeonholed. Rarely do successes get the broad recognition they deserve.  It's for that reason that I provide another school success story here.

Case study trials of interactive 3D software being conducted in Sweden over a two month period last year produced impressive results.

Two Stockholm schools were involved in this  project. The first is Vällingbyskolan, which enrolls over 700 students from the ages of six to fifteen, including students with learning disorders and disabilities. The students taking part in the trials, however, were mainly ages 13 to 15. Class size at Vällingbyskolan ranges from 15-25 students. The second school, Högalidsskolan, piloted 3D with students in year 5 to year 9 (students in the 10-16 age group). Both schools were piloting The 3D Classroom, a solution offered by Sensavis, focusing on the “Human Body” series covering the heart, lungs, kidney and fertility.

The Results
According to the principals who lead these projects in their respective buildings, a number of observable academic and behavioral benefits were evidences when using 3D in the classroom. Let me present these findings in this fashion (the hierarchy is mine, not theirs):

The principals of these schools, both of whom I interviewed, are indeed bullish on 3D. “A motivated student absorbs knowledge more easily and remembers what they have been taught. We have trialed 'The 3D Classroom' for two months and I am convinced that this is the future of learning,” said Fredrik Boström, principal  of Vällingbyskolan. “This technique captures attention, engages the students, and moreover, it is cost effective.” Mattias Boström, the principal of Högalidsskolan, reflected, “We have been trialing The 3D Classroom for the past eight weeks and have been monitoring the response from teachers and students. The feedback is overly positive. We will definitely implement this program in our school.”  (Please note that, despite identical last names, these two school leaders are not relatives.)

Despite the apparent slow-dance we generally see in the educational market, high-tempo schools are not letting up. Principals like Mattias Boström see it as the future. They continue to employ and explore 3D for its educational advantage. These schools in Stockholm are swinging to an upbeat rhythm—the rhythm of 3D visualization in education—I like to call it the rhythm of the mind’s eye. It’s just another example of 3D school success stories in action.

November 4, 2013

3D Content Fall 2013

Everywhere I go, the first question educators, manufacturers, and resellers ask me about 3D in education is entirely predictable: “What kind of content is available in 3D?” Twice a year, I release a list of available stereo 3D content specific to the educational market.

I started reporting my comprehensive list in January 2010, with my first report highlighting seven software companies producing stereo 3D content for the educational market. That’s all we could find at that time. Something interesting has happened along the way. Today, three years later, our awareness of the number of 3D educational content publishers has grown to thirty two. And it’s still growing. That’s a growth trajectory in excess of 450%. An interesting development to note is the increasing emergence of more 3D content for the elementary classroom.

Here’s a link to my October 2013 list of producers of 3D educational content. The content producers are listed in alphabetic order, along with a few salient comments on each provider. Enjoy!