March 31, 2014

April Showers, 3D Flowers

Here are some April 3D happenings worth your notice:

3D Sketchup BaseCamp. SketchUp 3D Basecamp 2014 will take place April 14th–16th in Vail, Colorado. Sponsors promise lots of meeting space, reliable internet, affordable lodging and terrific food for this “designing in rendered-3D” event. According to the sponsors, registration is easy and there’s nothing standing between you and the best mid-April of your life.

5th Annual VREP Showcase. The annual Virtual Reality Educational Pathfinder student competition continues to grow and mature. Students demonstrate the rendered, stereoscopic, and printed 3D projects they have developed throughout the year. It’s a great event to locate student interns. This year’s event is being held April 9th in Des Moines, Iowa, and it’s still not too late to get involved. The students would like to have feedback from you on what they can do to improve. You can go to the web page and register to attend the VREP event.  See the VREP Showcase Agenda for more details.

Eon Experience Workshop. Eon Reality is offering two days of presentations, hands-on Virtual Reality technology demonstration, and a first-hand look at EON’s flagship Entrepreneur School on April 10-11, in Manchester, United Kingdom. According to Eon Reality, “the Manchester Interactive Digital Center serves as EON’s European Headquarters and its state of the art Virtual Reality technology, development lab, and artistic resources help meet the growing demands for Interactive Digital Media in Europe and beyond.” This event allows you to explore Virtual and Augmented Reality technologies and exchange ideas with global VR experts, unpacking how interactive and immersive 3D technologies can help increase sales, better communicate product functionality, improve user training, or lower costs. Details can be found at the registration site.

March 24, 2014

Learning from Sweden

In recent 3D pilot projects in Sweden, teachers have been pushing the 3D envelope with sheer intensity. I wanted to drill down and unpack how teachers were actually teaching with 3D in these new trials, and what we could learn from them. The results of my investigation were enlightening.
Fredrik Bostrom

The Vällingbyskolan 3D Trials
According to F. Boström, the school principal leading the case study, teachers involved in the Vällingbyskolan 3D trials thoughtfully used 3D visualization in classrooms to:
  • quickly catch student interest
  • show biological phenomena from differing angles and perspectives than normally viewed
  • design new and original lessons, outside of the constraints and predictability of typical lesson delivery
  • reduce reliance on text for instruction

More importantly, these creative Vällingbyskolan educators also pushed existing boundaries by employing stereo 3D to:
  • evoke new questions from students in the areas of natural science, social science, and bioethics
  • put their own words to the images shown instead of depending on recorded text and narration
  • Vällingbyskolan
  • nimbly flip back and forth—between stereo 3D visualizations, film clips, writing on the board, and class discussions—while allowing students to figure out by themselves how biological systems work and express that in their own words

As you explain 3D to educators, what language are you using? Wow factor, engagement, and excitement are common marketing slogans (all taken from commercial websites), but none of these terms communicate the real advantages of using 3D in the classroom. I prefer the functional descriptions provided by Fredrik Boström.

March 17, 2014

Beyond the 3D Bubble

Having lived in Boulder, Princeton, and Beaverton, I know what it means when people say "you're in the bubble.” The real world lies just beyond. The same goes for people working in the arena of 3D: they tend to live in a secure bubble of like-minded enthusiasts. I am reminded of a cartoon that appears in the presentations of Shun‐nan Yang (PhD), a respected researcher with the Vision Performance Institute, College of Optometry (Pacific University):

The sad truth about this cartoon is that ordinary life is built upon binocular or 3D vision, hence the cringing nature of this insider’s joke.

A recent discussion hosted on LinkedIn’s bemoaned the notion that “It's still hip to hate 3D.” Apparently, the battle 3D currently faces is against "talking heads trying to influence the general public to adopt their [anti-3D] viewpoint.” “The masses love electrolytes, are considering gluten-free diets, and hate 3D,” they complain. Yet, we rarely make headway in this argument. “The public image needs to shift [to a] more positive [view],” they argue. “We just need to lobby for it like any other pop culture agenda, and not just to tech blogs and LinkedIn groups, but to the people who aren't buying tickets.” 

This article is about one way that we, as 3D enthusiasts, can start taking a positive message out beyond the boundaries of our obvious “3D bubble.” While attending the COVD Annual Meeting, (the College of Optometrists in Vision Development is the certifying body for doctors in the optometric specialty called Behavioral/ Developmental/ Rehabilitative Optometry), I met two authors that deal with 3D outside the bubble: in seeing, learning, and living. Each has published a unique book that would make a great gift for your child’s teacher, a parent, or a local school principal. Each book subtly conveys the importance of a child’s vision (which is 3D, of course!) in seeing, learning, and living. It’s a soft and inviting way to move beyond the 3D bubble and foster a message that will stick.

Red Flags for Primary Teachers, by Katie Johnson.
I first met Katie at the COVD Annual Meeting, when I noticed her impressive and unique poster session. Katie Johnson demonstrated through a variety of visuals how classroom teachers can identify vision problems that will affect learning as early as in the primary grades.

See it. Say it. Do it!: The Parent’s and Teacher’s Action Guide to Creating Successful Students and Confident Kids by Lynn Hellerstein.
A few moments later, I met Dr. Hellerstein and fanned through her book, which also comes well recommended.

Again, either of these resources would make for great end-of-the-school-year gifts for local educators. Or just give them a ticket to a 3D movie. 

March 10, 2014

3D @ COVD (3)

I must say that much of the interesting action of the 2013 COVD Annual Meeting occurred away from the speakers' hall, in the exhibit hall. Here were a plethora of exhibits, products, and research posters suited to every taste. The resources most relevant to our blog readers included:
  • Mature 3D-based automated Vision Therapy systems (see picture below)
  • A new iPad-based diagnostic and therapy from G labs. (See this video featuring Dr. Jen Simonson explaining the new product. Also see their Facebook site)
  • An interesting research poster suggesting that 3D technology can be a powerful tool in the early detection of visual disorders such as amblyopia and anisometropia in children (using the Playstation 3D, in this case)
  • A compelling research poster suggesting that vision therapy should be considered for those younger patients exhibiting visual symptoms, a diagnosis of ADD, and anxiety associated with poor school performance. Vision therapy, may well reduce unnecessary medication for these children, as well as a misdiagnosis of ADD

March 3, 2014

3D @ COVD (2)

Here are some more interesting 3D revelations that emerged from the recent COVD conference, described in last week's post:

Recent Findings and Future Priorities for S3D Research
Shun‐nan Yang (PhD), a prolific researcher with the Vision Performance Institute, College of Optometry (Pacific University), provided a compelling presentation on recent research.  Dr. Yang's most interesting findings include:
  • “Eye (visual/ocular) symptoms are weaker and limited; yet motion symptoms with 3D are significant and linger.” (Yang et al., 2012)
  • “The critical viewing duration for incurring symptoms is about 36 minutes in movie viewing.”  (Yang et al., 2011)

He then cited some of the potential advantages offered through 3D immersion by briefly reviewing his research on these topics:
  • “Opinion change and marketing success with S3D content” (Yang et al., 2013)
  • “Motivational/emotional enhancement after S3D viewing.” (Yang et al., 2013)

Simulated 3D in Classrooms
My own presentation on the use of 3D in education was split into three parts. First, I briefly reviewed how educational 3D (eS3D) is different from standard consumer or 'entertainment' 3D:
  • It’s slower
  • It prefers more negative parallax
  • It is experienced in shorter sustained viewing ‘segments
  • It offers longer sustained and uninterrupted scene viewing (more immersive ‘gulping’)

I highlighted academic results, future trends, and how teachers approach children and parents when they encounter known vision symptoms. I also offered some “hands-on, minds-on” viewing of actual 3-D educational content and hardware used in schools, including the new NEO3DO auto-stereoscopic tablet.

Clinical Aspects of S3D
Dr. Leonard J. Press (O.D., FCOVD, FAAO), well known for his work in New Jersey and his thoughts in the VisionHelp Blog, closed the full day seminar with a look at the more clinical practice aspects of stereoscopic 3D, reminding the medical audience in attendance about the three D's of stereo 3D: