As virtual reality (VR) has expanded to become more of an experience than your ordinary form of immersive technology: could it become intertwined with education to transform the way we learn?
This is something that Denmark-based startup Labster saw as an opportunity, namely: to encourage learning through VR. The startup, which was founded in 2012, has developed technology which fully delivers interactive, virtual lab simulations.
The company is already working with over 150 universities across 25 countries around the world to bring the VR lab experience to life, and recently raised funding of $10 million (£7.5 million) to expand its reach.
CEO Mads Bonde started Labster as a university student himself, at Harvard Medical School, and noticing the vast room for improvement he began to explore the ways in which VR could transform students' learning experience.
In an interview with Techworld, Bonde said: “The core aim is to gather immersive learning companies, meaning we are delivering learning that works in better ways than what we have currently through technology. So that is really the goal - to use virtual reality to make students learn more, to be more motivated and that is why we are doing it.
“So we see virtual reality as a tool to achieve every form of the best learning experience," says Bonde.
One of Labster's aims is to leverage technology in a way which will develop scalable science training software, packed with better learning outcomes than traditional solutions.
By delivering a VR learning experience for students, Labster shares its vision to create the next generation of scientists and developers working in virtual classrooms.
VR learning experience
The company encourages collaboration and partnership and sees it as the best way to drive innovation.
“The main thing is that we've invested a lot in development, working with psychology and experts of learning and putting all that together to really focus on having that custom learning experience. That is something that is essential for a gaming studio, and doing VR, that is very hard to do, especially from the start," Bonde said.
Partnering immersive tech with education is something which essentially takes a lot of drive, and buy in from the universities themselves.
The company has labs set up in San Francisco and London "and we are then able to form a close bond with some of the chosen universities that could really also help us with investigation and some other expertise", Bonde said.
The universities here in the UK include Imperial College in London and Exeter University.
VR learning as a skill set?
If we explore the use of VR as a learning experience, could we then say it becomes a skill, one that future developers may look back on and see where it all began?
In past years, developers were trained in the classroom with text books and online modules, but the scene is shifting as universities embrace education technology and immersive learning.
Bonde explained his vision, saying: "What we do is like a game, where you go in and learn about the science. So for instance you can go in as a detective and solve a murder investigation and then everything you do is through learning, talking to investigators about what the crime is.
"You go into a virtual laboratory and then you learn the same as what is in a text book through this environment."