Gabriel Moss

@gabrielmosspdx

‘VR Horizons’ Increases Accessibility of Immersive Education

Image credited to Humaneyes

In a world where VR and AR are beginning to take off on the consumer side, it’s safe to say that the way people expect to enjoy their entertainment will shift toward 360 degrees within the next 10 years. The foundation for that shift is already happening; Humaneyes’ Vuze line of 360-degree cameras is becoming a staple in media education programs, where students without programming knowledge are already creating fluid VR experiences.

“Our primary Vuze cameras are the Vuze and Vuze+,” Nick Jushchyshyn, Program Director at Drexel University told me. “Our department was founded 20 years ago, in 1998, and we’ve always taught immersive media classes. Up until the last several years, we’ve had to drag students kicking and screaming.”

Nick’s background, before getting into teaching, was in visual effects for feature films. His discipline focused on digitizing live-action sets so the computer generation of each shot would get the same lighting and effects as what was captured on the set.

As a teacher, he has had alumni graduate and move on to Pixar, where immersive technology is used to create high-quality content.

“Limitations used to be in the cost of the equipment,” Jushchyshyn told me. “Higher end cameras cost upwards of $10,000. Students don’t really use those until they learn the technology in general. And we only have a couple. Whereas the Vuze cameras shoot 360 degrees, are very lightweight, fully self-contained, and portable.”

Image credited to Road to VR

Rather than trying to contend as an action-cam, Humaneyes has focused its Vuze line of cameras on being VR-ready. The newest model, the Vuze XR, is even better optimized for the task. It can capture both 360 and 180 degree video in 5.7K resolution. It’s compact, with 3 small buttons and a slot for a MicroSD card. The extra potential storage space is important because the Vuze XR captures about a gigabyte of data per minute. And with mobile phone connectivity via the Vuze Camera app, you can control the Vuze remotely, edit video, and transfer files to your computer.

“Students have much more accessibility,” Jushchyshyn told me. “They can start creating content and learning. Creating 360 degree content is a very iterative process; no teacher can tell you how to do this.

“With content, the first time you try it, things don’t go the way you want. Students have to practice over again, and having these cameras allows multiple students to be practicing at once, all the time.”

One group of students from the VR Horizons program placed a Vuze camera inside of a wheelchair and rolled it up a set of hospital steps to the front desk. The goal of their project was to create an experience that would help individuals affected by hospital anxiety.

But outside of the VR Horizons program, Vuze cameras are being used to capture experiences that might be otherwise inaccessible for the general public.

“The recordings sent down from the space station were the most interesting so far,” Jushchyshyn told me. “The fact that they can be sent up there and astronauts can use them with nominal training is great. There are very few stereoscopic cameras that could have done that.”

“I can set it down on a stone in the middle of a lake and capture beautiful natural scenery,” Jushchyshyn continued. “I brought a $10,000 camera with me and left it behind because of the weight and difficulty of setup. If I were paid to capture the mountain, I’d bring the $10,000 camera, but since I wasn’t, the Vuze was infinitely better.”

While Humaneyes has been around for 17 years, it is best known for its 3D printing and pre-rendered content solutions. Vuze originally launched in March 2017, with its follow-up model Vuze XR shipping to customers in late November 2018.

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