The immersive learning experience uses VR to let young participants pedal a stationary bike through their drawings and clay figures.
Remember when arts and crafts meant some glue sticks and a handful of dry macaroni? Ah yes, it was a simpler time that the children of today will unfortunately never fully understand. Especially when you have digital technology groups such as Play Lab dedicated to bringing technology into younger and younger classrooms. Since its initial creation January of this year the company has been developing all types of projects focused on VR & AR learning. However their newest program may be their most ambitious yet.
As part of their commitment to mixing new media with conventional education while simultaneously making the 12 year old me insanely jealous, Play Lab’s If I Ride VR workshop uses virtual reality technology to give kids the opportunity to explore artwork they create themselves. Participating children design and draw their own 3D environment and then fill their new world with hand-molded clay sculptures. A Samsung Gear 360 camera captures the scene in 360-degrees which kids can then explore using a Google Cardboard headset that they also get to customize (and obviously keep).
Now this is where things get really interesting. Rather than just have participants simply observe the scene standing in place, they can actually hop on a stationary bike and pedal their way through the custom 3D world. In the video provided the children can be seen building and then traversing a marine-themed world filled to the brim with exotic sea creatures. There’s even a simple animated bubble overlay to help sell the feeling of traveling underwater. No specifics as to how exactly they are pairing the bike with the VR experience to allow for motion, but based on the video is appears as though a small sensor placed near the rear wheel tracks tire rotation.
However, If I Ride is the just the tip of the iceberg for Play Lab. The company already has plans for several other exciting programs that marry conventional classroom education with cutting-edge technology, from an augmented reality app that kids can use as a storytelling tool with artwork they’ve created, to VR therapy that promotes conversations about thoughts and experiences using mixed realities.
If I Ride is currently available to New York children ages 4 – 12 at $500 per workshop. Head to Play Lab’s official website for more information on how to sign up your little one.