We saw a short video on a Nepalese boy who had to walk 10 miles each way for school. From this video, we wanted to find a way to bring unique experiences to students in constrained locations. This could be for students in remote locations, or in cash strapped low income schools. We learned that we all share a passion for creating fair learning opportunities for everyone, which is why we created Magic School VR.
What it does
Magic School VR is an immersive virtual reality educational platform where you can attend one-on-one lectures with historical figures, influential scientists, or the world's best teachers. You can have Albert Einstein teach you quantum theory, Bill Nye the Science Guy explain the importance of mitochondria, or Warren Buffet educate you on investing.
Step 1: Choose a subject physics, biology, history, computer science, etc.
Step 2: Choose your teacher (Elon Musk, Albert Einstein, Neil Degrasse Tyson, etc.
Step 3: Choose your specific topic Quantum Theory, Data Structures, WWII, Nitrogen cycle, etc.
Step 4: Get immersed in your virtual learning environment
Step 5: Examination Small quizzes, short answers, etc.
How we built it
We used Unity, Oculus SDK, and Google VR to build the VR platform as well as a variety of tools and APIs such as:
- Lyrebird API to recreate Albert Einstein's voice. We trained the model by feeding it with audio data. Through machine learning, it generated audio clips for us.
- Cinema 4D to create and modify 3D models.
- Adobe Premiere to put together our 3D models and speech, as well to chroma key masking objects.
- Adobe After Effects to create UI animations.
- C# to code camera instructions, displays, and interactions in Unity.
- Hardware used: Samsung Gear VR headset, Oculus Rift VR Headset.
Challenges we ran into
We ran into a lot of errors with deploying Magic School VR to the Samsung Gear Headset, so instead we used Oculus Rift. However, we had hardware limitations when it came to running Oculus Rift off our laptops as we did not have HDMI ports that connected to dedicated GPUs. This led to a lot of searching around trying to find a desktop PC that could run Oculus.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are happy that we got the VR to work. Coming into QHacks we didn't have much experience in Unity so a lot of hacking was required :) Every little accomplishment motivated us to keep grinding. The moment we manged to display our program in the VR headset, we were mesmerized and in love with the technology. We experienced first hand how impactful VR can be in education.
What we learned
- Developing with VR is very fun!!!
- How to build environments, camera movements, and interactions within Unity
- You don't need a technical background to make cool stuff.
What's next for Magic School VR
Our next steps are to implement eye-tracking engagement metrics in order to see how engaged students are to the lessons. This will help give structure to create more engaging lesson plans. In terms of expanding it as a business, we plan on reaching out to VR partners such as Merge VR to distribute our lesson plans as well as to reach out to educational institutions to create lesson plans designed for the public school curriculum.