Google keeps teaming up with cutting edge companies in the agenda to spread VR to different spheres of life. The latest partnership with Labster comes as a great boost to STEM students, particularly those who find their lab time lacking. With the help of Google Daydream headset, students can now visit some 30 newly opened virtual reality labs, no time limit whatsoever.
As the recent Google and IMAX VR camera cancellation might suggest, Virtual Reality market has subsided its formidable pace. For the time being, heavyweight companies are slightly tilting towards AR. But, as usual, Google is the one testing new waters, finding an ocean of opportunity in Universities. Offering its Daydream platform to education simulation company Labster, the two have created a dozen of University-level laboratories for STEM-field students. DNA sequencing for instance, can now be done outside the confines of fully-operating real-life labs.
‘Through its ability to take people anywhere, virtual reality can be a powerful resource for students who otherwise would not have access to lab time they need to complete their degrees’. And indeed, it is just as Google AR and VR program manager Courtney Hampson words it. Some STEM fields requires lab time that far exceeds what the majority of students are traditionally getting. Many students have difficulties reaching the labs necessary in their line of study. Either due to distance, schedule, or something akin, the students are often unable to spend nearly enough hours testing the theories from classrooms.
No longer, if Google and Labster have any say. For the students of MIT, Arizona State University, University of Texas, and handful of others, the new Virtual Reality labs are up and running. Traditionally lab-limited activities such as chain simulation, DNA sequencing, RNA extraction, or gene expression and regulation, are fully testable through Google Daydream or Lenovo Mirage Solo headsets. It is the next step in incorporation reality technologies for educational purposes. There are currently more than 10 schools enjoying the Virtual Reality labs with more Universities across The U.S. and Europe expected to take up the idea.
The one obvious benefit for students is the amount of lab time they are getting. Whereas with palpable laboratories it can be frustratingly limited, there is no limit to accessing the VR labs. Students are free to spend and make mistakes as much and as many times as they want. Also, schools are in no pressure to keep lights on which cuts the cost of running school labs.
Labster even goes a few steps further in delivering its educational content. Billions of steps further in fact. Through the platform, students can transcend the VR labs and explore a fictitious, potentially habitable exoplanet Astakos IV. The example here suggests that testing things within these laboratories is perhaps itself a testing soil for a more ambitious projects.
Be that as it may, the Virtual Reality labs are themselves quite a feat. There is no telling how effective they currently are. But knowing Google, and judging by the lab number which extends over 30 at the launch, Google and Labster are taking the project seriously.