To date we have counted 33 major software producers of stereo 3D educational content, worldwide. Now there are 34. A new arrival to the 3D software scene, Smartur3D is raising the ante with their unique value proposition.
Smartur3D produces interactive 3D models in K-12 STEM subjects. Smartur3D offers 150 models in biology,with other subjects (chemistry, physics, and geography) coming. These interactive 3D models can be used in flexible formats: in high-definition rendered 3D, stereo 3D, or even as an augmented reality overlay. Looking at the navigation menu, I immediately recognized that this content was built on the Unity game engine, offering some familiar commands and features (e.g., explode, disassemble, ‘glassy’ transparent mode, hiding elements, and reset). But that’s where the Smartur3D advantage (educational value proposition) comes into play. More advanced capabilities are offered, richer than what we have seen with the typical ‘exploratory’ nature of most 3D interactives. For example, students can label elements as opposed to the computer doing it; elements can be highlighted; a drawing tool enables annotation of elements; and a customization toolbar allows for personalized navigational choices.
There are other very powerful differentiators, as well, features that set Smartur3D apart from the crowd. Some of these features include on-the-fly image capture and recording of interactive events for lecture creation or reshowing in a later class. (The teacher can build an animation, annotate it, record what she is doing and saying, title it—and then save it for later replay.)
Smartur3D also permits overlaying augmented reality images on live video. (Only one other company has merged the stereo 3D and the augmented reality worlds effectively —zSpace.) Smartur3D lets the educator take a 3D object from a 3D model and place it as an augmented reality overlay. It’s quite attention getting. (Think of it as embedding an augmented reality object over a live video scene of your own classroom of students, while they are watching.)
Another advantage offered by Smartur3D is simplicity and flexibility in installation. These are not small matters, as over-complexity and technical constraints become deal breakers for many schools. Smartur3D can be installed via a CD or network, put on high-end or low-end laptops or computers, and even displayed on projectors, 3D displays, or interactive white boards.
Since cost makes or breaks technology use for schools, Smartur 3D is also innovating in licensing. “We wanted a price point that even [emerging markets] could afford,” explained Neeraj Jewalkar of Smartur3D. The price of the entire Smartur3D corpus for an entire school (not just one teacher), regardless of the size of school is $99 per year, per school. “The whole idea is to create something that is affordable,” adds Jewalkar. “And despite the fact that it is already affordable, we are going to give away the first year of Smartur3D for free for a whole year for anyone who signs up.”