How Lenovo Brings VR Experiences to Education and Healthcare

Tuesday 1/8/19 09:00am
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Posted By Leilani DeLeon
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To deliver greater value to our community, Qualcomm Developer Network collaborates with a wide ecosystem of companies who are creatively using our technologies in new and exciting ways. Lenovo is a global technology leader that we are excited to be collaborating with because they bring innovative products to consumers including smartphones, tablets, and VR headsets. In this blog, we delve into some of the learnings that Lenovo encountered when developing platforms for the education and healthcare sectors using the Mirage Solo VR headset powered by the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 835 mobile platform.

Bringing New Worlds to the Classroom with VR

The recently-launched Lenovo VR Classroom kit is a platform to help provide unique educational opportunities while offering a truly immersive learning environment for students ages 13 and up. This kit utilizes the award-winning Lenovo Mirage Solo with Daydream VR headset as well as ready-to-go content and teacher training materials, and is now being implemented at hundreds of schools across North America.

Immersive experiences like those created in VR games lead to increased engagement, and Lenovo discovered that it was no different in the education sector where VR gets kids more engaged in learning. According to one survey of teachers, kids are 97% more engaged while learning in a VR environment!

However, because the use of VR in education is new, Lenovo discovered there were challenges for successful deployment such as classroom management, technology integration, and user experience. Since many users are new to VR technology, it was important to go through early usability testing as well as pilots with real users to incorporate findings on how they interact with the solution and to identify changes that were required to meet their needs.

First it was essential to make controls intuitive to all users. This not only includes the students, but also the IT departments who set up and maintain the platform as well as the teachers who administer it in the classroom. Intuitive controls make it easier for everyone to learn, so the tutorial and interfaces had to be good. If a user has a bad experience, even during initial tutorials and set up, the immersive experience can be ‘broken’ and the system won’t be used.

In addition to being easy to use by both teachers and students, there must also be a clear connection between the product and learning outcomes. The Lenovo team found that the quick soundbites of 10-to-15-minute learning sessions work best in an educational environment.

The complete solution included more than just a VR experience. It also included detailed written documentation and support materials, as well as specialized training programs designed to familiarize teachers and administrators, since they oversee the usage of the solution in educational settings.

VR Provides Welcome Experiences for Healthcare Patients

Lenovo also learned to pay careful attention to the unique requirements that different physical settings place on both the hardware and software. That became especially clear in a healthcare setting, and specifically during the development of the ‘Starlight Xperience’ program with Starlight Children’s Foundation. Here the Mirage Solo VR headsets are loaded with custom apps, games, and content for children in pediatric care, which can then provide a distraction from treatments children may be undergoing through immersive entertainment.

In this health care setting, the user experience is very complex due to the operating environment. For example, an untethered solution is key to not have cords tangled with other medical equipment. Additionally, the physical headset components must be easily cleaned for hygiene purposes. Other factors include the interaction with medical equipment, limited mobility of users, and the unique requirements for children within in-patient settings. To fulfill these requirements Starlight and Lenovo consulted with medical personnel, hospital administrators, and researchers to design and build an optimal solution.

Where Will VR Go Next?

According to Lenovo, the best part about VR in new areas such as education and healthcare is the ability to provide the type of immersive experience that can temporarily “transport” the user from their typical setting or environment. In education, that helps improve the learning process for students, while in healthcare it helps create a positive experience for children going through a difficult time.

What’s next? From discussions with customers, developers, and startups in the VR industry, Lenovo has identified opportunities across many commercial verticals including real estate, construction, aviation, and corporate training. Perhaps you might find inspiration developing a VR solution for any of these verticals, and we certainly recommend the Mirage Solo VR headset as a great development tool to manifest your creation. If you have other insights into VR in areas such as education and healthcare, we’d love to hear about any inspiration you may have.

Qualcomm Snapdragon is a product of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.