Google Expeditions are coming to classrooms around the world for free. The experiences are powered by Google Cardboard, a relatively low-tech solution which turns smartphones into Virtual Reality headsets.
Right now, teachers can choose from a library of 100+ virtual trips to places like Mars, the Great Barrier Reef and the Great Wall of China. But we’re constantly adding more trips with the help of partners like PBS, educational publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, British documentarian David Attenborough and his production company Alchemy VR, and the Wildlife Conservation Society. We’re also working with the Starfish Foundation to help students explore future careers by showing them a virtual day in the life of professionals including a veterinarian and computer scientist. And to help students achieve those career goals, we’re working with First Lady Michelle Obama to support her Reach Higher initiative by taking students on virtual college tours.
Virtual reality is poised to become one of the technologies that defines the 21st century. In the same way that television defined the 1900s, Virtual Reality will completely change the way we experience entertainment and education. No longer will children hear a lecture about what a rain forest is like, they can walk through the environment and experience it for themselves.
Virtual Reality will also be a game-changer for tourism. People will be able to experience the sights and sounds of landmarks and take an adventure around the world all from the comfort of home.
Virtual Reality devices are still in the early stages, however 2016 looks to be a year of major consumer releases of polished devices like the Oculus Rift and there are many companies developing exciting and engaging content to pair with the hardware.