HTC has been making inroads into the education system in China with its startup VIVEDU, which centers around both University-level and K-12 education programs using HTC Vive and now HTC Vive Focus, the company’s 6DOF standalone VR headset. In a bid to go even further, the HTC-founded startup recently launched a new turn-key solution that packs in an impressive number of Vive Focus headsets into a storage locker.
VivEdu was founded by HTC last year, and is headed by Dr. Sun Wei, the founding president of the School of Software of Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics and professor at the School of Computer Science at Florida State University. With a starting focus on University-level education and vocational schools in sectors such as mechanical engineering, VivEdu branched out to K-12 education in 2018, boasting a comprehensive VR approach to learning science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and art for kids.
The locker, HTC Vive China President Alvin Wang Graylin says in a recent tweet, was designed to store, charge, sanitize and make content updates easy, also including content creation tools and a classroom management system. As an enterprise solution, there’s no word on pricing yet.
According to Graylin, the system boasts 100,000+ educational VR assets in a cloud-based content library so teachers can create their own coursework and tailor it to their specific lecture, letting students explore the workings of an engine, or other CAD-created models to help students see and interact while they learn.
While stocking a classroom full of premium (and objectively expensive) VR headsets is a tall order to fill, it’s an interesting peek into what VR could look like when mobilized at scale. It’s clear the Vive Focus lockers will be inaccessible to anyone but the most fortunate of students in China, but when VR headsets significantly decrease in price over the years, we might see similar setups at a fraction of the cost in wider contexts. As it is, a Vive Focus is roughly half as cheap as an HTC Vive and requisite gaming PC when priced together, making this a truly pioneering endeavour to say the least.
On the decidedly cheaper end of the spectrum, Google has seeded classrooms with their free Cardboard, Daydream and PC-accessible education app called Google Tour Creator, which lets students and teachers create Google Maps-based 360 tours for group learning in VR; it’s a different, wider approach, but clearly limited in scope.
However you slice it, kids are getting an education adults nowadays would have died for—and that’s exactly the way it should always be.