There are a lot of math concepts that are hard to teach in a traditional classroom. One concept that Benilde-St. Margaret teachers John Groess and Max Johnson identified as a place they could use a virtual environment effective was working with geometric shapes. Teaching about volume, edges, faces, and other three dimentional concepts are tough when teaching tools are build for a 2D world. They worked with REM5 Virtual Reality Laboratory to build a lesson in VR that students worked in teams to complete. When they were done, they used geometric shapes and their new VR skills to create a virtual castle and it's in exploring geometry in a virtual world on their own that the concepts they learned really took hold.
If you want to learn more or find out how VR can be used for your class or field trips, email email@example.com.
Mr. Groess even got a chance to experience some VR for himself.
Some of the most impactful work we do at REM5 Virtual Reality is with seniors. This is a story of one night at REM5 that we'll never forget:
This story isn't an isolated experience for us at REM5. For example, a group from TowerLight Senior Living visited recently. We had some skeptical visitors to start, but after a few minutes we found one guest lost in her experience swimming with dolphins and another reminiscing during a virtual tour of the Glensheen Mansion in Duluth, MN. Virtual reality can be a way to transport through space and time and there's no age limit to where the technology can have an impact.
REM5 Virtual Reality Laboratory hosted Beacon Academy last week and we overheard multiple students say it was the best field trip they've ever been on. We're biased, but we think so too.
As much as field trips might be fun, there's a lot of learning going on too. Here's what you need to know about field trips to REM5, but first a look at 40 kids who are excited to learn about VR.
Field trips are fun and easy at REM5. We'll handle the technology and teach kids how to use VR. All you have to do is set up a time and arrange the bus. Here are details if you're interested in a field trip to REM5:
VR Field Trip: Field trips are focused on introducing virtual reality technology to students, advancing their awareness of next-generation technology, and offering a teacher’s choice of learning and fun. (60-90 minutes)
15 - 30 minutes - Intro to VR. Discussion of 360 video vs Virtual Reality vs Augmented Reality and where the industry is headed (tailored to each group).
45 - 60 minutes - Teacher’s choice: Job Simulator, Tilt Brush, Fantastic Contraption, Ocean Rift, Fruit Ninja, Tilt Brush, Fantastic Contraption, 360 videos, and/or specific requested content. Plan would vary depending on age of students and class subjects attending.
Cost: $12 per student.
We're always happy to discuss special field trips using VR, which have included a sports journalism class and a 3-session art project. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to schedule your VR field trip!
Twin Cities Live reporter Kelli Hanson thought she had a fun assignment when she called us inquiring about featuring REM5 Virtual Reality Laboratory on Twin Cities Live earlier this month. What she didn't know is that she would get a crash course in VR, including one of the best reactions to seeing a whale that we've ever seen (below is her response to said whale). Check out the full story below.
REM5 Virtual Reality Laboratory has always been so much more than entertainment. Yes, we serve pizza and beer along with highly entertaining VR content on nights and weekends, but we called the company a laboratory for a reason. REM5 is here to bring VR technology to the world in an approachable package, whether you're 6 or 106 years old. The Star Tribune's Neal St. Anthony saw that first hand and highlighted how empathy training is an area where VR is a powerful to make the world a little better place for everyone. Read the entire article below.
One of the wonderful features of VR is that there's something for everyone. REM5 has had the pleasure of hosting both the South Minneapolis High School Autism Program and students from the Academy of Whole Learning, an entire school devoted to students on the autism spectrum. KSTP stopped by to highlight the value VR can provide to students.
If you're interested in learning how REM5 can help your school, email us at email@example.com.
At CES, HTC (which REM5 uses) announced two new VR headsets, the Cosmos due out later this year and the Vive Pro Eye. This follows Oculus's announcement of the Quest in fall 2018, meaning 2019 is going to be a big year for new headsets in VR. What does this mean for you? Should you buy one? Let's dig into these headsets to get some answers.
The first headset I want to cover is the Oculus Quest, which is slated to be a $400 standalone headset from Oculus that's due out in Spring 2019. The Quest's biggest differentiators are price, portability, and inside out tracking.
On portability, basically Oculus has taken the computing power needed to operate Quest from the computer to the headset. If you've tried and Oculus Go, you know that eliminating the teather of the computer is a nice feature when in VR. But there are tradeoffs. The graphics card is the single most expensive component in a VR computer and a standalone headset that costs $400 can't take a modern graphics card (either from a price or space perspective), so Quest will use the Snapdragon 835 processor, which was originally intended for mobile phones. The chip was originally announced in 2016, so this won't be the most powerful headset on the market. That's the price Oculus is willing to pay for being low-cost.
The inside-out tracking is arguably even more revolutionary. Instead of lighthouses that track a specified area (like we have at REM5), the headset itself will be tracking a person's movement. This will allow developers to build a much larger virtual world and eliminate the restriction of cords. The downside for inside-out tracking is blind spots that the headset can't see. Switching to a shield in Space Pirate Trainer or making a big swing in Beat Saber may lead to some wonky controller locations when hands come back in view, so watch for how headsets and developers handle this potential hiccup.
How does REM5 view the Quest? It's a great consumer product and hopefully it will sell into millions of homes. But it's far less powerful than the Vive Pro headsets we have today, so it won't replace our existing equipment. That said, if it's a good experience, we'll find a way to use Oculus Quest at REM5.
HTC isn't going low-cost
In stark contrast to Oculus HTC's recently announced Cosmos isn't going low-cost. Shown below, it's also using inside-out tracking but will be tethered to a computer (for now) and HTC has said it will have better resolution than the Vive Pro. That could open up the possibility of VR backpacks that would allow for a huge roaming area.
Price and other specs aren't out, but HTC says Cosmos will work with Steam VR and has indicated that it will try to push its own "Vive Reality System" as its platform of choice. Exactly what that looks like is unknown, but HTC clearly doesn't want to be reliant on Steam forever.
Another welcome change is new controllers, which resemble Oculus's Touch controllers. Vive's controllers have long been a sore subject for developers and users alike, so getting a more natural controller is a nice change.
What does REM5 think? Pricing for Cosmos hasn't been released, but it's likely the headset will be closer to the $1,400 of the Vive Pro rather than the $400 Oculus Quest. That means Vive is going after enterprise customers, like REM5, with this headset. Rest assured, we'll get one and if it brings better resolution, solid tracking, and better comfort to customers this could be our headset of the future.
Vive Pro Eye
Finally, we have the Vive Pro Eye, which is basically just the Vive Pro (like we have at REM5) with eye tracking. The idea is to increase resolution at the location a person is directly looking and reduce resolution in the periphery. This will optimize use of the critical graphics card.
REM5 will likely test a headset when it comes out, so stay tuned for more on this new upgrade from HTC.
2018 ended with a bang and REM5 was packed between Christmas Day and New Years Eve. We took a few days off the spend with family and friends, giving us time to recharge as a busy January begins.
Team Building in VR
As we break down the stigma virtual reality has of being only for gamers or kids, we're seeing more and more interest in corporate events, including full buyouts of our space. We usually have a few confused faces as people come in for these events, but invariably confusion turns into smiles of joy as people experience VR for the first time and find a new way to bond with their co-workers. And with more multi-player experiences being added to our menu, you can literally build a team in a virtual world. That's a next-level team building event.
Tweaking the lineup
As we evolve, we keep changing what we're offering on our VR menu to meet customer demand. This week, we're taking Hoops VR and Final Goalie off the regular menu and adding HoloBall, a simple but incredibly fun racketball-type experience. To take HoloBall to the next level, play against a friend in The Quad, where your location in the virtual and real world are almost identical.
Peripherals are coming to REM5
If you've been to REM5 recently, you may have seen that we've also been playing with peripherals like a hockey stock and tennis racket that track in the virtual environment. As of yesterday, we are playing table tennis with a real paddle in VR. Mind blown! And that's just the beginning; we will be one of the first locations in the world to have the Striker VR gun for HTC Vive, so stay tuned for more.
St. Louis Park Business Council
We hosted the St. Louis Park Business Council meeting on December 6. About 20 local business leader attended and demo’d virtual reality. We are proud to be part of this chapter of the Chamber of Commerce and look forward to continued collaboration with local businesses.
Best of MN
We were fortunate to be chosen as one of the “Best of MN” presenters last week, where we demo’d VR to about 50 people from around the state. Beat Saber was on the menu and, as usual, everyone was incredibly impressed. We opened some eyes to the possibility of VR and even made some interesting connections in law enforcement and education that could lead to long-term partnerships for REM5.
Schools are excited about VR
We've had a busy few weeks showing educators virtual reality at REM5. Charter school AGAMIM visited on Thursday, December 6 with 15 teachers demoing VR. Beacon Academy teachers were here Thursday, December 13 with 18 teachers and staff experiencing VR. They’re very excited about bringing the ENTIRE SCHOOL to REM5.
Benilde teachers continue to be early adoptors with math teachers exploring Calcflow, Google Blocks, and Make VR Pro for teaching calculus and geometry (Blocks and Make VR). This was a continuation of demos we did with Benilde in November, so this relationship is maturing as teachers learn more about VR.
Continuing the education track, representatives from Macalister and Hill Murray also stopped in to REM5 to discuss how they’re using VR and how we may be able to expand their capabilities. Schools are
VR in Architecture
We recently had the pleasure of assisting our architecture firm on a pitch for a new project. We used Iris Prospect to show a project they designed and proposed using VR as a tool in the design phase of the project. Instead of having meeting at their offices, where they would pass around 2D drawings and images, REM5 could host design reviews and the architects could pull up different design options in the virtual space to give customer employees more context in their design options. Architecture is one area where VR has a lot of potential to both save money and improve results.
One of the great powers of virtual reality is we can simulate experiences without taking on real-world risks. The military was one of the first to recognize this benefit in the early 2000s, building tank and aircraft simulators with virtual reality built-in.
The Army is using what it's calling a Synthetic Training Environment to simulate military exercises in a variety of environments. Soldiers will be able to team up with counterparts at 20 locations across the country to train in close-combat environments.
Simulating military exercises will reduce injury, save money, and increase the number of reps a soldier can get in simulated field exercises. Those are all big wins for everyone in the military and virtual reality is making it possible.