Module One – Reviewing Current Technologies

Interactive technologies – a current snapshot and retrospective

Photo by Lucrezia Carnelos on Unsplash

In this module, you will examine the current 2020 snapshot of interactive technologies.


15 Minutes

Virtual Reality (VR) has been around for approaching 60 years and if you study the timeline you will see that during the last 5 years related technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) are accelerating in the rate of release. This is signalling greater commercial interest from the likes of Google, Apple and other technology giants. The release of the iPhone 12 Pro in November 2020 heralded the next generation of AR mobile capability. It includes LiDAR scanner technology to create a depth map of your surroundings. In conjunction with AR apps, you can interact with the world around you allowing for new retail experiences such trying on shoes and transposing yourself into a new landscape.

This all seems futuristic, however it is here now. Technology has a habit of sneaking up on you. Are you ready for the present with Augmented Reality overlaying your world? No doubt hand held mobile devices will be the most readily accepted method of augmentation. Already head mounted devices seem clumsy. Few can afford the HoloLens systems that cost thousands unless in a corporate environment (although the price is likely to fall over time). Ultraleap with its hand tracking and haptic enabled devices using ultrasound create the sensation of touch in mid-air. It will not be long before such devices are mainstream allowing shoppers to experience the ‘feel’ of products remotely and for those with sensory disabilities to have a way of interpreting the world.

What are your experiences of using VR, AR or MR?

15 Minutes

Please share your experience, if any with using these technologies. Good or bad! Fill in the padlet to inform other participants on your position regarding these technologies. The feedback will be beneficial in course development.

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Activity 1

15 minutes

Review the Ted Talk and consider the future

Watch Jak Wilmot’s Ted Talk from October 2019 – What I learned from spending a week in Virtual Reality. In this video, Wilmot considers how our society may adopt this platform over the next few decades.

He asks

What are the implications of simulating our living breathing physical reality?

Jak Wilmot, Ted Talk October 2019

Questions to consider

Spend 15 minutes considering these questions
Write down your thoughts:

  1. What would be the benefits of multisensory enhanced learning environment to the following scenarios:
  • Health & Safety
  • Surgery
  • Children with mixed learning preferences
  • Special needs education

2. What are your fears for physical and emotional health if you were to encounter an excessively long VR experience?

3. Do you think you could live through a ‘Virtual Lens’ as described in Wilmot’s Ted Talk?

4. Do you think a ‘guide at the side’ to assist you in a VR environment would be a beneficial or an intrusion into a private experience?

Activity 2


Here are some readings regarding Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality and their current applications.

It is suggested you either read the primary reading or the two secondary ones. Either will take up to 45 minutes.

You, of course can return to the OER in your own time and choose the other readings!

Primary reading

‘Systematic review of AR in medicine, retail and games’

45 minutes
Suitable for a participant with no current knowledge of multisensory technologies

This article written in 2020 reviews current applications of AR in three important fields where use is increasing. The objective is to showcase how AR can improve and enhance the user experience in entertainment, medicine and retail. In this OER, although we look to the future for multisensory interfaces and their unintended consequences, it may surprise you the level of development in medical healing, medical training, surgery and post-medical training today. This area is not often revealed to the general public.

You may like to consider the following questions and write down your thoughts:

1. If the adoption of sophisticated multisensory technologies is so beneficial, yet the processing power and cost is prohibited – does a divide appear in the inequality of access that prohibits some institutions, retailers or participants from the opportunity to benefit from their use?

2. What are the implications of the data generated from your choices in retail, even from gaming actions or as a result of an operation? With the data analytics generated, there are questions on how participant reactions are traceable and the implications on their future life choices.

3. Would you feel 100% confident if you were operated on by a robot?

Secondary readings
Suitable for a course participant who is aware the current range of mutisensory interfaces and would like to explore further

Digital Immersion – case studies for virtual reality in architectural design
30 minutes

This article explores first-person immersion in a virtual reality as a means of experiencing space. It researches the abilities of virtual reality to simulate ranges of sensory information to inform the design process in architecture.

You may to consider the following questions:

  1. Welty and Setiawan, state the ‘virtual world could serve as a new prosthetic, as extension of the human body to experience space’ (Welty & Setiawan, 2019).
    Do you think the use of conventional head mounted displays (HMD) with limited recommended session times (15 minutes) is a barrier to the acceptance of VR as a long term solution? If in time motion sickness was overcome in the use of HMD, would you still find the use too immersive and restrictive in the environment it can be used in?
  2. On page 4 of the article, participants of virtual experiences could perceive happiness or fear depending on additional sensory stimulation such as sounds and lighting conditions. Welty and Setiawan state ‘Technological advances not only expanded possibilities for visual experiences of space, but also allowed integrations of the use of other senses in experiencing space, hence simulating both visual and haptic experiences of space’ (Welty & Setiawan, 2019). Can you envisage this as being a danger to some participants? What would you suggest to minimise the chances of adverse reactions?

Sound can enhance the analgesic effect of virtual reality’
15 Minutes

This article looks at the role of supplementary auditory information in addition to a VR experience to offset the effect of pain.
You may like to consider the following questions:

  1. Do you think the think there is the danger of sensory overload by over stimulating the brain?
  2. What sort of sounds would you personally like to hear if you were trying to offset pain.
  3. Do you think olfactory stimulation can have benefits in other VR experiences such as retail or even gaming?

You have now completed Module One – Reviewing Current Technologies

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