Christchurch Branch Report: Bringing augmented and virtual reality to learning

On Tuesday 16 May, Sakthi Ranganathan spoke to TechCommNZ’s Canterbury branch about his work with augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). He welcomed the audience in English and Māori, an impressive achievement for someone who arrived in NZ 6 years ago with minimal English.

During the talk, Sakthi showed several examples of both AR and VR.

AR shows a view of the real world on a device, but alters it by adding virtual objects. His smartphone made it appear that a stag and a giraffe were standing in the meeting room in front of the attendees. The animals were triggered by a picture on a piece of paper that was detected by the phone’s camera. Objects can also be triggered in other ways, such as geolocation.

VR creates a completely artificial environment. Sakthi showed a video of a VR promotion for Doritos that he developed with a friend. It challenged users to walk a virtual plank on the edge of a high-rise building. In reality, the participants were wearing a VR headset at ground level.

Aviation and medicine are early adopters of AR/VR, and as part of his Masters, Sakthi created an interactive animation showing medicinal concentrations. More recently, he launched a company named JIX, which stands for Joyful Immersive eXperience. JIX works with AR, VR, face detection, gesture recognition, holographic projections, or multitouch screens. The environments are created in a VR authoring suite, with some C# coding.

It was a fascinating introduction to the possibilities of VR/AR, and the talk’s strong attendance attests to the interest in this exciting field. It ended with participants having a chance to explore a virtual warehouse or play virtual cricket.

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