MEL Science Launches Daydream VR App for Chemistry Education

HIGHLIGHTS

  • MEL Science wants to bring together chemistry kits and VR
  • It wants students to explore the inside of atoms to understand reactions
  • It’s starting with Google Daydream, with Cardboard and Gear VR next

Virtual reality is slowly gaining steam, and although gaming takes up the lion’s share of attention, many experts believe that areas like education will be powerful drivers for growth when it comes to VR. This is steadily becoming reality, according to Vassili Philippov, Founder and CEO of MEL Science. In an emailed conversation with Gadgets 360, Philippov talks about why he believes virtual reality is going to become extremely important in the education sector, and gave us an early look at the company’s Chemistry VR application, which releases on Tuesday.

MEL Science is a London-based company that is building a technology-enabled approach to science education. It’s using educational videos, virtual reality explanations for the underlying science, and combining that with hands-on experiments using real chemistry kits.

MEL Science Launches Daydream VR App for Chemistry Education

Philippov says that the new VR application is being released as a subscription service – with the first six VR classes free – and each month, consumers will get two new chemistry sets to do experiments with their kids at home, alongside the VR and video experiences. Philippov says the chemistry sets are important, because he does not believe that VR alone can replace a chemistry set.

MEL build atom MEL

“Virtual reality can be used to simulate a real lab. So instead of using real chemicals, test tubes, and burners you will use virtual ones,” he writes. “Indeed, real hands-on experiments are more engaging for kids. Every time I do experiments with kids, I see their eyes light up. We do not want to take it away from our kids by replacing real hands-on experiments with a VR lab.”

VR is perfect for explaining how the science behind the experiments works, according to Philippov. “VR is perfect to place kids inside a chemical reaction where molecules fly all around them, where they see how these molecules interact with each other,” he writes. “We can let them play with atomic orbitals. We can encourage kids to touch them, build their own atoms and molecules and see what happens.”

“You can explain to kids what happens inside a chemical reaction or inside a cell,” Philippov continues. “You can also explain why. And you can show pictures. Imagine how much more they would understand if they were to find themselves inside a chemical reaction.”

The idea behind the MEL VR application is that it becomes easier for children to understand basic concepts by enabling them to visualise things that happen at a micro level in a very interactive manner. The free lessons that MEL will be releasing cover atoms in solids, atoms in gases, atoms in structure, electron orbitals, and create your own atom. This will enable children to learn about the structure of the atom, and the differences between the elements.

MEL in lab MEL

Starting with Google Daydream
One of the challenges with virtual reality is that there are too many platforms out there, which is a problem for those developing new applications. In the high-end VR space, we’ve got three systems: the Playstation VR, which is a closed system that only works with the PS4; and the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, which are both powered by high-end PCs. Software for the latter two has some degree of interoperability, with a raft of caveats.

Then there’s a whole range of mobile VR headsets as well – starting with Google Cardboard, the Samsung Gear VR developed wth Oculus, and most recently, Google’s Daydream.

MEL Chemistry VR is being launched for Google Daydream – coincidentally, just one day after the Daydream Viewer headset was launched in India on Monday – which is supported on only a handful of phones. As of now, Daydream is limited to the Google Pixel, Pixel XL, and Moto Z, and it is coming to Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ soon. On the other hand, you can use Cardboard with almost every phone, including Apple’s iPhone.

MEL first person MEL

However, Philippov writes that MEL Science wanted to focus on Daydream first because it offers much more functionality than its cheaper, and more widespread cousin, Cardboard. That said, the company will release a Cardboard build, and then a Gear VR build as well, he adds. “Gear VR is a great platform, although most schools use Cardboard as it is much cheaper,” he writes.

On the other hand, Philippov is of the opinion that high-end PC VR setups are not likely to find much use in education, at least not at the school level. “We believe mobile based VR will be the way to go in schools,” he continues.

A concern we raised is whether it would be safe to use a VR headset for extended periods, particularly for children whose bodies are still developing. Philippov admits that there’s no data yet on this space, but he points out that Google has already been using VR for education, with some success.

“Google did quite large scale pilot program with Google Expedition in schools,” he writes. “More than one million students have tried this VR experience. I have not seen the official papers but what I heard that no big concerns were identified to use of VR in schools. It is still early days for VR technology, but I am sure that it will be a great tool in science education.”

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Is Coming to PS VR

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is going to be available on VR
  • Sony showed a gameplay trailer for this game
  • Bethesda continues to bring Skyrim to more platforms

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim continues to be the juggernaut that propels Bethesda across platforms. After its announcement on the Nintendo Switch, the massively successful game was announced for Sony PlayStation VR at Sony’s E3 2017 event.

The VR footage showed the protagonist wielding a bow and arrow and taking on dragons, which is a big part of the game’s quests. The environment is quite immersive in VR and the game appears to play quite differently as well. At the moment it isn’t clear if the game is getting any extra content for VR aside from the full game along with official add-ons in Dawnguard, Hearthfire, and Dragonborn.The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Is Coming to PS VR

We did not see a release date for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for Sony PlayStation VR, but since it’s an old game we can safely expect it to make it sometime soon. Bethesda has been aggressively porting Skyrim to as many platforms as possible.

This move may irk fans of The Elder Scrolls series as they’ve been waiting for a new game in the franchise, but their wait will last a while longer. This year’s E3 showed that at the moment Bethesda wants to take Skyrim to more platforms, so perhaps the next game in the series is further down the road.

If you’re not sure what Skyrim is all about, it’s a role-playing game that was extremely popular for letting you do insane things. Taking down dragons with your bare hands was just one of these things, apart from taking arrows to the knees.

Apple Announces Metal 2, External GPU Support, and Steam VR at WWDC 2017

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Apple revealed the new Metal 2 API at WWDC 2017
  • Metal for VR was announced as well
  • Support for Steam VR, Unity, and Unreal was confirmed too

Aside from announcing macOS High Sierra, Apple at WWDC 2017 revealed the new Metal 2 graphics API which the company claims will make code run 10x faster versus last-gen Metal. Also, Metal for VR was announced as well. There are driver optimisations, indirect argument buffers, and sampler arrays to name a few improvements for creators.

Image result for VR gear

Furthermore, Metal will now support external graphics via a Thunderbolt port with the Metal 2 developer kit that ships with the recently announced AMD Radeon RX 580 GPU.

To drive home Apple’s commitment to creators, the company stated that Metal 2 will support the Steam VR SDK as well as Unity and Unreal Engine. Combined with external GPU support, it means you should be able to use HTC Vive on the Mac.

Does this mean Apple’s hardware will actually work with everything in your Steam library as well as it does on a Windows PC? Not really. But it is a statement of intent. Combined with renewed focus on creators, it could have more than enough to give Microsoft and Oculus cause for concern.

“That is up to Apple. If they ever release a good computer, we will do it,” Oculus founder Palmer Luckey said last year. He went on to clarify the meaning behind his statement and said it’s down to how Apple doesn’t provide high-end GPUs in its computers, which is essential to running the demanding Oculus Rift VR platform.

“You can buy a $6,000 (Rs. 4,00,000) Mac Pro with the top of the line AMD FirePro D700, and it still doesn’t match our recommended specs. So if they prioritise higher-end GPUs like they used to for a while back in the day, we’d love to support Mac. But right now, there’s just not a single machine out there that supports it.”

Doom VFR and Fallout 4 VR Announced at Bethesda E3 2017

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Doom VR is announced as Doom VFR
  • Fallout 4 VR will be out in October
  • No release date for Doom VFR has been given

Image result for VR gear

Doom is getting a VR version. Called Doom VFR it was announced by Bethesda at its E3 2017 conference. In addition to this, the company also revealed Fallout 4 in VR, dubbed as the first open-world game completely made in VR.

Doom VFR will be available on PS VR and HTC Vive. Fallout 4 VR will be available for HTC Vive in October. No date for Doom VFR has been given just yet.

This marks Bethesda first attempt at bringing its IPs to VR. With Fallout and Doom, it seems that VR will get a shot in the arm it so drastically needs.

For what its worth we found Doom to be one of the better games of 2016. Bethesda had the right idea in mind when it brought back Wolfenstein, and reviving Doom back after a prolonged spell in development hell is just as welcome. The game offers more than enough for fans to sink their teeth into, while it injects some purely-optional new ideas to keep in-step with modern games.

How Fallout 4’s dystopia translates to VR would be interesting. With an immersive world, open-ended gameplay options, and so much to do, Fallout 4 is well worth the price of entry. Chances are, you’ll be spending a lot of time in Boston. We know we have and will be in the months to come.

Google Daydream View VR Headset Launched in India at Rs. 6,499

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Daydream View VR headset available for Rs. 6,499
  • Apps include YouTube VR, Street View, Play Movies and more
  • Daydream supported phones include Google Pixel, Pixel XL, and Moto Z

Image result for VR gear

  • The headset is being offered on Flipkart with 5 percent off for Axis Bank Buzz Credit Cards and Rs. 300 cash back on payment through PhonePe. EMI options are also available and each pair of headset comes with 1 year of warranty. First 30 customers to buy Google Daydream View VR via Flipkart will also receive Google Chromecast for free, while the first 50 customers will receive a Google Play Store Credit worth Rs. 500.

    The Daydream View VR headset functions along the lines of Samsung’s Gear VR and you will need Daydream-supported smartphones for the headset to work. As of now, the list of phones that support Daydream is small with the likes of Google Pixel, Pixel XL, and Moto Z, to name a few and will also come to Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ soon. So, for those considering to buy the headset in India may want to check they have a Daydream-ready smartphone first.

  • google daydream vr googleThe Daydream View VR headset is made up of a lightweight fabric for a comfortable feel. The controller lets you interact with the virtual world, letting you take various actions with help of motion and gesture sensors and physical buttons. The Daydream app that houses a collection of apps and games for Daydream-ready phones. The YouTube VR app will let you watch 3D or standard 360-degree videos with the Daydream View headset. The Street View app lets you tour over 150 popular real-world places, while Play Movies offers some VR-ready movies. Third-party developers too provide Daydream-ready content via their apps.

    “Daydream View promises users a mesmerising experience. Swim with a pod of dolphins, stand at the edge of a volcano and even visit Pluto with Daydream View. Users can teleport from virtually anywhere to pretty much everywhere. Our aim is to make the VR experience mobile so that customers can easily carry it anywhere with them. We at Google are also working with developers, smartphone companies, and content creators to make VR accessible to all,” said Clay Bavor, Vice President of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality at Google.

Sony at E3 2017: God of War, Spider-Man, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, and Skyrim for VR

HIGHLIGHTS

  • God of War is coming early 2018
  • Spider-Man scheduled for 2018 as well
  • Uncharted: The Lost Legacy arrives August 22

Unlike Microsoft, Sony didn’t have a new console to show off at its E3 2017 event on Tuesday – that’s because the PS4 Pro has been out since November – but it did provide a good look at some of its most anticipated exclusive games, and other popular third-party titles. Here’s the biggest stuff from the PlayStation presser.

The new God of War is a father-son story
One of the most highly-awaited titles, the next God of War – simply titled eponymously – is a bit of a soft reboot and shifts to the Norse mythology. That doesn’t mean your favourite Greek myth hero, Kratos, is going anywhere though. This time, his son Atreus is with him for the ride as Kratos takes on an assortment of monster creatures. In between, you’ll have cut scenes featuring Atreus’ mother.

While you’ll play as Kratos throughout the game, you’ll be able to passively control Atreus with a dedicated button. The trailer focused on the father-son relationship, with Kratos teaching him how to survive and become a warrior. God of War will be a PS4-exclusive title, coming early 2018. It’ll be a single-player-only title, and is inspired by RPGs.

Sony at E3 2017: God of War, Spider-Man, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, and Skyrim for VR

Spider-Man will be part stealth, and part bonkers
We know a new PS4-exclusive Spider-Man game has been on its way, and we got the first extended look at some gameplay during the PlayStation E3 2017 event. The game will allow you to play stealthily at times, and very hands-on as the need arises. Wilson Fisk, who some of you might know from Netflix’s Daredevil, seems to be a minor villain in the game.

The trailer showed us that Insomniac Games have spent time in understanding the insane capabilities of Spidey’s agility and web strength, which allows for some crazy and unique stunts, as witnessed from the helicopter balancing act in the trailer. There was even a sneak mention of Miles Morales towards the end of the event, which is a good progressive step identity-wise that Marvel’s film efforts should take notes from.

Spider-Man doesn’t have a defined release date, just 2018 at this point.

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is set in India
After an announcement back in December as a standalone chapter, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy claimed the opening slot at the PlayStation E3 event, in the form of a live Indian classical music performance followed by a trailer that showed gameplay, story, characters, and its lush tropical setting: India.

Based on characters present in Uncharted 4 – Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross – players will search for the tusk of Ganesh in the new game. Hopefully, the game will give a nuanced portrayal of its setting, and stay away from any stereotypes. We’ll find out when it arrives August 22.

Destiny 2 moved up to September 6
Although Bungie held an extensive reveal in May, Destiny 2 was still present at the PlayStation E3 2017 event. We didn’t get a lot in the way of gameplay, but instead a bigger focus on what will be the game’s primary antagonist at launch: Dominus Ghaul, the leader of the Red Legion. Of course, the bigger reason for Sony was to show off its continued exclusivity deal with Bungie, which will give the PS4 access to exclusive weapons, gear, strikes, and a map.

And if you’re dying to play it, you’ll be happy to know Destiny 2 arrives two days earlier on September 6 for consoles. It’ll make it to PCs October 24.

Call of Duty: WWII feels grittier than ever
While the franchise’s return to its roots – World War II, to be precise – may feel like a retrace of its steps, it has allowed the developers to explore the setting in a way that wasn’t frankly possible earlier. For one, the studio didn’t have the resources it has now, and graphics performance has come a long way in all those years.

With the new Call of Duty, it feels like we’re going to get a much gritter, and gory portrayal of the Second World War. In other words, much like it was for the people involved. Of course, this being Call of Duty, it also means the action will be dialled all the way to 11. There’s close quarter warfare, fighting in the trenches, and taking out bombers with anti-air weaponry.

Plus, it’ll take you through the most well-known spots during 1941-45: France, Germany, Belgium, and the Soviet Union. Call of Duty arrives November 3 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

PlayStation VR is getting Skyrim and FFXV fishing off-shoot
If you thought PS VR would be left out of the discussion, you’d happy to know that wasn’t the case. The biggest one was Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim by far, which didn’t get a release date, but the trailer did give a glimpse of what you can expect. Between VR and the Nintendo Switch, it seems Bethesda will ensure the acclaimed title can reap all its rewards before thinking of a new chapter in the long-running series.

There was a trailer for the VR spin-off to Final Fantasy XV, as well. It’s called Monster of the Deep, and it basically includes Noctis fishing, which is how he likes to spend time between the monster battles.

In between, we got trailers for a sci-fi side-scroller called Star Child, a story set in an asylum called The Inpatient, Moss featuring a bunny on two legs with an artificial limb, and a FPS called Bravo Team.

Marvel vs Capcom saga continues with Infinite
The biggest change with Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite is two-on-two fights, instead of the usual three-on-three format. The trailer shown at E3 2017 wasn’t bothered with that at all though, instead focusing on the Marvel character list players would see: Captain America, Gamora and Rocket from Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Panther, Hulk, Thanos, and even Ultron. It’s coming September 19 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

Capcom also showed off a new Monster Hunter title at the event, which will bring the franchise out of Japan. It features dinosaurs, a giant sword, and a lot of running. Monster Hunter: World will release early 2018.

Days Gone involves hordes of zombies and infected giant bears
A gameplay trailer for Days Gone showed the protagonist’s skills and stealth gameplay, which can be turned into full-on action with an explosive that attracts zombies – known as “Freakers” that were created by a global pandemic – and takes out your enemies for you. The infection has also spread to giant, mutated bears, given what we witness in the trailer.

Days Gone still doesn’t have a release date, though.

A war is brewing between androids and humans in Detroit: Become Human
Announced almost two years ago, Sony’s first-party PS4-exclusive action-adventure title showed up at the PlayStation E3 2017 event without a release date, again. The focus was entirely on Marcus, an android disillusioned from his master-slave relationship with humans, who takes it upon himself to free others of his kind and take on the oppressors.

It’s set in futuristic Detroit City, and there are clear vibes of Watch Dogs – some hacking elements, and the aesthetic – as well as Deus Ex, which presents a similar conflict between humans and half-androids, so to say.

PlayStation VR is getting Skyrim and FFXV fishing off-shoot
If you thought PS VR would be left out of the discussion, you’d happy to know that wasn’t the case. The biggest one was Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim by far, which didn’t get a release date, but the trailer did give a glimpse of what you can expect. Between VR and the Nintendo Switch, it seems Bethesda will ensure the acclaimed title can reap all its rewards before thinking of a new chapter in the long-running series.

There was a trailer for the VR spin-off to Final Fantasy XV, as well. It’s called Monster of the Deep, and it basically includes Noctis fishing, which is how he likes to spend time between the monster battles.

In between, we got trailers for a sci-fi side-scroller called Star Child, a story set in an asylum called The Inpatient, Moss featuring a bunny on two legs with an artificial limb, and a FPS called Bravo Team.

Marvel vs Capcom saga continues with Infinite
The biggest change with Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite is two-on-two fights, instead of the usual three-on-three format. The trailer shown at E3 2017 wasn’t bothered with that at all though, instead focusing on the Marvel character list players would see: Captain America, Gamora and Rocket from Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Panther, Hulk, Thanos, and even Ultron. It’s coming September 19 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

Capcom also showed off a new Monster Hunter title at the event, which will bring the franchise out of Japan. It features dinosaurs, a giant sword, and a lot of running. Monster Hunter: World will release early 2018.

Days Gone involves hordes of zombies and infected giant bears
A gameplay trailer for Days Gone showed the protagonist’s skills and stealth gameplay, which can be turned into full-on action with an explosive that attracts zombies – known as “Freakers” that were created by a global pandemic – and takes out your enemies for you. The infection has also spread to giant, mutated bears, given what we witness in the trailer.

Days Gone still doesn’t have a release date, though.

A war is brewing between androids and humans in Detroit: Become Human
Announced almost two years ago, Sony’s first-party PS4-exclusive action-adventure title showed up at the PlayStation E3 2017 event without a release date, again. The focus was entirely on Marcus, an android disillusioned from his master-slave relationship with humans, who takes it upon himself to free others of his kind and take on the oppressors.

It’s set in futuristic Detroit City, and there are clear vibes of Watch Dogs – some hacking elements, and the aesthetic – as well as Deus Ex, which presents a similar conflict between humans and half-androids, so to say.