Over the next decade, extended reality will doubtless change the way we interact with our surroundings and the manner in which people communicate with each other.
Extended reality includes the technologies of virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality. While it’s a field that is far advanced in the videogame industry and leisure applications, it is undergoing development in other areas such as tourism, health, engineering and education.
Virtual reality makes it possible to create simulators and immersive environments that help train future professionals, and is especially relevant in risky situations such as controlling a nuclear reactor or piloting a plane. Virtual reality also makes it possible to visit inaccessible places, visualize and manipulate objects of microscopic size, scan parts of the human body or make large distances and spaces smaller and more accessible.
For its part, augmented reality makes it possible to access additional information, adding virtual layers to the real world that surrounds us so as to be able to complete information related to the objects and the environment we find ourselves in.
Mixed reality combines the two previous concepts, making it possible to interact with virtual objects projected on the real world, with the result that virtual reality can mix with real virtual.
Thanks to technological advances, the devices for virtual reality and mixed reality are increasingly powerful and portable, and their prices are lower and lower, with the result that consumers can use them in their homes.
Universidad Europea has made a commitment to this innovative technology, which will doubtless revolutionize the way our students learn –in a specialized laboratory, a normal classroom or from their homes. In 2018 Universidad Europea launched the project called XR Lab (eXtended Reality Lab), a laboratory focused on the creation, evaluation and research into educational resources that involve virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality.
2018 has brought the first pilot projects in virtual and augmented reality, in which students, depending on the degree for which they are working, will have the chance to get different training: they can simulate the conditions an emergency doctor would encounter for a day, learn procedures in the case of laboratory accidents, navigate within the human body, or interact with the plasma membrane that surrounds cells. They can visualize bio-molecules, play a Trivial Pursuit game of augmented reality so as to strengthen their knowledge of different subjects, learn basketball technique and strategy while pretending to be the latest Real Madrid basketball player, assimilate key concepts about cyber security through the use of 360º interactive videos, or develop transversal skills in immersive virtual surroundings. To carry out all these projects, the XR Lab has developed an agile methodology that puts the focus on a design that will make it possible to maximize the student’s learning experience.
There is also a physical space for the XR-Lab, thus providing a cutting-edge technological setting that is structured into two conceptually separated areas:
-Work area: to carry out development and research tasks and test educational resources.
-Showroom: an exhibition space where the university community and companies can enjoy a virtual experience by testing our applications.
With this laboratory, which is unique in Spain, Universidad Europea becomes a pioneer in the generation and use of extended reality as applied to education.