In part 2 of our regular series covering some of the most promising content to come out of the Oculus Mobile VR Jam, we take a look at three educational apps that show the transformative power of VR to instill curiosity about subjects that are traditionally hard to grasp.
The final winners in the two category tracks—Games and Experiences—will be announced on June 3rd at 10:00am PDT. But don’t forget, you can vote for your favorite Mobile VR Jam app until May 27th, which will net a team $10,000 in cash and the title ‘Community’s Choice’.
We’ll be highlighting the titles we think show particular promise over the next couple of weeks until voting closes.
NeoS: The Universe
Tomáš “Frooxius” Mariančík, developer behind several polished and praised experiences such as Sight Line: The Chair and educational app World of Comenius, meets again with dev and audio engineer Louis Arrigoni to produce NeoS: The Universe.
The mind-bending experience takes you through what the team calls “forty magnitudes of scale within a few minutes,” but it felt more like a 100 in a few seconds to me. NeoS takes you from atomic particles to the entirety of the observable universe, and in a massive brain dump, shows you everything in between. Thankfully you can toggle a ‘free mode’ that lets you easily go back in and recapture all the nuances you missed the first time during the narrated tour.
NeoS has been done with the reverence and intellectual rigor that an experience that literally shows you all of existence really deserves. However, more exciting is the fact that this is only a piece of what is to come from Mariančík and Arrigoni, who are currently working on NeoS VR, a project outside the bounds of the Mobile VR Jam that they call “A Virtual Reality Operating System” set for release in Q1 of 2016.
House of Languages
Was your first attempt to learn a foreign language from a stuffy, underpaid middle school teacher (who you weren’t sure even actually spoke the language)? Well, hopefully those days are long gone, because House of Languages introduces the art of acquiring a foreign tongue in a fun way that is appropriate for beginners of all ages.
The demo features three modes using audio from real native speakers of Spanish, English, and German. Mr. Woo, your new red panda buddy, takes you through the paces naming household items in a beautifully rendered cartoon house, something reminiscent of a cozy hobbit hole.
Although the task is fairly straight forward—locating a broom or a tea pot when told the equivalent in the foreign language—the floating icon that matches your gaze reticle moves automatically to the object if you can’t find it in the first few seconds. More often than not, I was sidestepping the task by just visually matching the icon to the object, but more difficult levels might do away with the visual safety net entirely. Developer Maxim Miheyenko has also promised to add more languages and more challenges to round out the app.
Inside the Human Body
The size-shrinking phenomenon is well-trodden ground in films like Fantastic Voyage (1966), Innerspace (1987), Honey I Shrunk the Kids (1989), and TV series like the super nostalgia-inducing The Magic School Bus (1994) where children travel through the human body inside of a sentient school bus at the behest of their teacher, Ms. Frizzle.
Inside the Human Body shrinks you down to experience two areas of the human physiology: the circulatory system and the central nervous system. In the longer experience of the two, you wind around with a headlamp through a dark tunnel, the blood vessel, and learn about erythrocytes (red blood cells), leukocytes (white blood cells), and how the body heals itself when injured.
Inside the Human Body, created by the single-person team composed of Moshe Ben-Zacharia, can definitely benefit from a professional voice actor to make things a little easier to understand audio-wise, and more lengthy experiences would be a plus, but the basic concepts and functionality are all there to make this app something to watch out for in the near future.
We’ll be covering as many titles as possible right up until the winners are announced on June 3rd. In the mean time, don’t forget to vote for your favourites right here and stay tuned for part 3 of our round up.