DIY 3D Printed Virtual/Augmented Reality Headsets
Matthew had been wanting to teach a class on Climate Change for long time, but he knew that the challenge would be keeping middle and high school kids engaged and interested. He didn't want it to just be another class that they had to take, but an experience that they would remember and learn from. His answer was to create headsets that utilize both augmented reality and virtual reality technologies. Because of the headsets he doesn't have to just show the students a photo of the arctic, he can virtually take them there, and they can look all around. Instead of showing a map in Power Point he can project a 3D model of the Earth on their table tops, and they can pick it up. These techniques are extremely novel and keep the students interested in the topic.
He designed and created the headsets using 3D modeling software (Blender), 3D printing (Makerbot), and microcontrollers (Arduino). In the class he covers what Climate Change is, why it's happening, how we know it's happening, and what we can except from it. The goal is to not only give students a firm understanding of the topic in general, but to also show them there are many ways in which they contribute to the field of climate science as adults.
Matthew is finally approaching the goal that he has had for the lab since it's inception in 2012: that of a space filled with both real and virtual exhibits, giving visitors the opportunity to interact with it all as if everything was real. Spinning planets above you, full scale dinosaurs walking around you; virtual and augmented reality hold many promises that Matthew is finally starting to fulfill with his newest headset: version 2.
Version 2 of the headsets is near completion. New features include speakers, a wand for interacting with the 3D environment, a suspension system to keep cords off the ground, a new gyroscope for better angle tracking and cameras that track the user's position in the room. Now all one has to do to walk around a 3D scene is to walk around the lab. For more details about the this project please visit its' Hackaday projects page.