virtual reality

Learn by doing, so the age-old mantra goes. With the improvement of technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality, students — especially those in programs that require hands-on components — have new opportunities to engage with material. Verizon has debuted “Alley,” its Manhattan-based, 5G-powered incubator program that provides a coworking space in order to support the ongoing advancements in these tech segments.

“We’ve been able to test and experiment with the 5G technology,” said NYU professor Dr. Ken Perlin, who’s been using the space with students to develop features for AR and VR. “We’re looking at simple use cases now, but will be looking at more involved, more interesting applications as time goes on.”

Specifically, Perlin and his students have created “ChalkTalk,” an open source that renders multi-media objects into 3-D via AR. “Using AR on mobile devices can be an effective learning tool for interacting with content — the challenge is being able to update and respond to that content in real-time as the instructor makes his or her point,” explained a Verizon spokesman.

For the technology to work, learning institutions will need 5G, however. “5G technology has the potential to provide the high speed and low latency — or lag — required to facilitate interactive, real-time educational content in a mobile environment, allowing students and instructor to share and respond to that content as if they were in the same location when, in fact, they could be miles apart,” the spokesman said. The benefits will likely outweigh the initial cost. As expectations for students to enter professional fields continue to rise, the need for hands-on, virtual-powered solutions will only grow.

Fashion students particularly have much to gain from engaging with “ChalkTalk,” or similar AR and VR programs. Instead of viewing 2-D images in a book, screen, or slide, students could virtually walk the Met’s Costume Institute, examine textiles, or view draping possibilities of different fabrics, for example.

“With 5G and AR, the classroom of the future doesn’t have to be a physical classroom at all. And the ‘hands-on’ experience of that virtual classroom can improve the learning process,” the spokesman said.

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