Computers & Technology

By Darryl Budge

Free virtual reality ‘field trip’

Cardboard viewer
Cardboard viewer

Google's Expeditions app (Android only for now) is now freely available so you can make a virtual visit to the Great Barrier Reef, Italy's Verona and even Mars, among over 200 locations.

The 360-degree virtual tours are fun without Cardboard or another VR viewer, but it is certainly a more real experience if you have one.

Students using viewers
Students using cardboard viewers

The Expeditions app was initially designed for a teacher to take their whole class on a peer-to-peer synced virtual field trip, using dozens of cheap Android phones, $5 Cardboard VR viewers and a 'tour guide' tablet. Over a million students from 11 countries have been on such virtual expeditions in the past year.

Locations include Antarctica, Machu Pichu, Dubai's Burj Khalifa, The Great Wall of China, the Congo, and many US National Parks. You can also explore human anatomy (like a less colourful "The Magic School Bus") and the careers of a few accomplished artists.

Other free family-safe apps for 360-degree experiences are YouTube, Fulldive VR, Orbulus, Titans of Space, Volvo Reality, and Roller Coaster VR.

Classrooms also have a new Google Cast for Education app available for Chrome browsers, which enables teachers and students to share their screens on a HDMI-equipped screen via a Google Cast Wi-Fi dongle (approx. $50). Schools that use inexpensive Google Chromebooks will find this extremely useful.

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