Virtual Reality coverage has mainly focused on the entertainment side of the technology. Gaming, movies and 360-degree pictures have received a lot of attention from a variety of media sources. Education, while it has been mentioned, hasn’t been given too much attention. However, that is not to say that there isn’t anything interesting being done in this sector. On Wednesday I went to Eon Reality here in Singapore as part of the Virtual Reality Symposium. We had a chance to have a look at the projects they have been working on for the last two years. Suffice it to say; there was some fascinating technology on display.
Eon Reality works with some of the highest of high-end technology, but also more established tech. EON Experience AVR, currently available for free in the App Store and Google Store, is a learning app that uses both AR and VR. Stick down an AR marker, and you can move your tablet/phone around a floating hologram. Stick on a VR viewer like Google cardboard and it becomes VR. There is also the more common learning app, but that’s kinda boring. For a free app, it’s a lot of fun and very instructive. You even have the option to create your own lessons and experiences, although I didn’t get a chance to play with that.
The other was a display Eon Reality made for YouGov when Singapore began selling the idea of the Smart City. Using a phone or tablet you can play simple AR games and learn about the concept of a smart city. It’s cute and straightforward enough, but nothing mind-blowing. However, the fact that I can call it simple and sweet shows how incredible the rest of the technology on display is.
The More Exciting
Eon Reality has been working on some amazing software. Most recognisable is an HTC rig that allows you to deconstruct and study a jet engine. The attraction is obvious enough: it’s cheaper to spend a few thousand on an HMD and a computer than a couple of million on an engine. So far so usual, but this is just an in-between step. I was told by an Eon representative that the eventual plan would be to move to a Mixed Reality set up, similar to what Magic Leap is working on. I haven’t seen it so cannot comment on it, but it sounds remarkable.
The highlight by a country mile was the Icube. Marketed as a ‘multi-sided virtual reality environment,’ it’s several projectors and head-tracking software. You stand in it and look around a VR space that envelopes you. It’s very expensive, so don’t expect to see this in your home anytime soon, but as an environmental experience, it was great. One experience in particular, where a human body was exploded to show the various internal works, I shuddered slightly as the capillary system passed through my body. It wasn’t tangible but was high-quality enough to elicit this emotion. Again, this won’t be widespread anytime soon but can be a great experience in places such as schools for education, or malls and other retail spaces for more fun experiences.
Eon Reality benefits from years of experience in VR, and it shows in their products. They aren’t perfect, but the potential is astounding. Having a company like this in Singapore gives a great deal of promise to the future of VR and AR. When the mixed reality comes to fruition, that is when the real promise of their technology will be shown.