Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) hold the promise to revolutionize education and training through enabling the implementation of new practical educational methods that increase students’ and trainees’ engagement, while at the same time boost knowledge retention. The new training methods especially when used with satellite navigation and geographic information systems can completely change the current educational paradigm about physical world structures and phenomena.
In this context, a newly established SME from Greece with specialization in geo-information systems (GIS), remote sensing and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), has designed and prototyped a novel product for the visualization of geospatial information upon 3D soil or sand formations.
In particular, users of the product may reform the sand within a box/unit and the system responds accordingly, to show the geographic information (3D maps) adapted to the new morphology of the sand in near real time. It is a tangible alternative for map visualization, interaction and decision support through real time interaction. In practical terms, end-users (i.e. pupils, students) sculpture the sand in order to form/create different structures as part of practical exercises given to them. It is equipped with powerful software and hardware, which allows it to track and understand user activity, as a means of providing real-time feedback to end users concerning the completion of an exercise and the quality of the formation.
Furthermore, it offers repeatable, interactive and experience learning combined with fun. Contour maps, slope, orientation or multi-spectral data are interactively adapting to portray any new scene. The user immediately grasps the 3D geographic concepts and gradually establishes more complex relations. The system reads (through camera sensors), processes the changes, and then projects them on top of the new surface items or results according to the application at hand, almost spontaneously within milliseconds giving a direct cause-effect participatory experience.
It is offered in three (3) different versions;
-software only offered together with full guidelines on the hardware needed (support lists and specifications) and assembly instructions,
- lite & portable that is an all-in-one “lite” version including apart from the software, all the core hardware and guidelines of assembly. The main differentiator in this case is the foldable fabric container giving portability for users to use in various venues, as well as reducing overall weight,
- standard that is full-blown large-scale software/ hardware bundle which can reach up to 500kg of sand and simultaneous use of 6+ users, and is mainly addressed to promo venues.
A series of add-ons are also offered including installation, training and maintenance services, virtual reality (VR) headsets and avatars.
It is not the sole product of its kind. There are similar products on the market. However, the main difference is that the proposed technology targets education as a primary target group and also is quite modular combining advanced characteristics with main respect to spatial intelligence; its modularity in terms of number of varying interactive tools, visualizations and exercises, the incorporation of a miniature/avatar placement along with VR components, the integration of novel structured educational exercises and the inclusion of earth observation satellite paradigms.
The Greek company is looking to expand the technology and find new partners that are interested to install the proposed offering based on their own needs and requirements. Since it has immense applications in diverse sectors, different partners active in recreation, tourism (museums), natural disasters, public safety, medical health care, urban planning, land surveying and naval / marine applications are sought. The desired type of cooperation is commercial agreement with technical assistance.