History Education in VR

History in VR

1. Overview

Virtual reality (VR) allows users to experience a near limitless number of moments and locations relevant to the teaching of history, including those that might be hard, or impossible, to do in the real-world. If visiting the tomb of Nefertiti was one such experience you always wanted, then you’ll be happy to know that it is now possible to do just that thanks to VR. You can also take on the role of a surveyor of different kinds of ship and learn how ship building has evolved through the ages. VR is full of opportunities to explore eras and locations that bring history to life and make it believable in a fun and immersive way. Here, these two examples are reviewed below.

2. Nefertari: Journey to Eternity

Nefertari was an Egyptian queen and wife of Ramesses the Great. She is considered to be one of the most well-known Egyptian queens next to that of Cleopatra. Highly educated, she was said to carry out diplomatic work, corresponding with other royals at the time of her rule.

About the experience and its educational values:

Nefertari now rests in her tomb in Egypt’s legendary Valley of the Queens, one of the modern world’s most detailed windows into ancient Egyptians’ belief of their journey to the afterlife. Thanks to the work of Experius, VR users can now journey to her tomb and see the stunning archaeological beauty of it in fully detail, with millimetre resolution accuracy thanks to the magic of 3D scanning and VR. This is the first time that people will be able to step into the tomb and immerse themselves within the story of its art, history, construction, and mythology through a number of interactive educational elements.

The publisher for the title, CuriosityStream, were also the publisher behind the space exploration experience title “Destination: Pluto The VR Experience”. This title allowed users to take a trip to the surface of the Pluto. Now with “Nefertari: Journey to Eternity”, the publisher is once again inviting users to embark on a deeply educational journey into one of the world’s most stunning and mysterious locations.

The actual location was scanned using a technique called photogrammetry, which scans real world locations with extreme accuracy, and enables them to be imported as 3D meshes and textures, which can then be enjoyed in VR.

Stepping inside the tomb in VR is stunningly realistic, the sense of scale and 3D immersion you get from the experience is perfect and really makes you feel like you are actually there. To see this for the first time is a stunning and memorable experience that people will always remember. The level of detail in the surrounding textures and wall paintings, as well as the lighting effects, are magnificently realistic. You feel totally immersed in this world and just want to look around as much as possible and lean in close to the walls to inspect them in as much detail as you can. So much expensive technology and hard work has gone into making this experience by scanning the real-world location, and it is amazing that such a thing is given away for free in this age.

As you explore the tomb you can interact with various highlighted elements such as wall paintings, with a brief voice-over explanation of what you are looking at and what it means. Its a highly educational and unforgettable experience.

Intended for use with the HTC Vive headset, “Nefertari: Journey to Eternity” is available to download for free.

Music and sound:

An appropriate track of gentle music helps to make you feel completely immersed in this wonderfully spiritual world. Appropriate voiceovers are used for various explanations and interactions as they are needed. This is all done amazingly well, in keeping with the quality of the overall experience.

What others are saying:

Using state-of-the-art photogrammetry technology with millimetre accuracy, Simon Che de Boer of Reality Virtual and Experius VR have digitally scanned Nerfertari’s tomb, letting owners of Vive, Rift, and Windows VR headsets step inside the fabled burial site and learn about the over 3,000 year-old Egyptian queen’s life, religion, and culture.

-Road To VR

Concluding remarks:

“Nefertari: Journey to Eternity” is an unmissable free experience that should be enjoyed by anyone with a curious mind. It is honestly an unforgettable experience when you see how immersive and realistic this tomb becomes as you look around, it is a special moment in the history of educational VR.

3. Ship Surveyor Through the Ages

The Lloyd’s Register Foundation Heritage & Education Centre wants to inspire the next generation of maritime surveyors and engineers in an innovative and engaging way. Their vision is to allow visitors to learn about the importance of surveyor roles and how they’ve evolved over time as maritime engineering has progressed.

About the experience and its educational values:

“Ship Surveyor Through the Ages” is a gamified VR learning experience that will immerse you in simulated environments and challenge you to take on the varied roles of a surveyor across the key eras of maritime engineering. As the player you undertake key tasks that surveyors would perform in three types of ship construction: wood, composite and contemporary. The aim is to be able to locate all hazards and faults on-board the ships before your timer runs out.

“Ship Surveyor Through the Ages “– VR is a “virtual job” game in which you play the role of a maritime vessel ship surveyor as you make sure each of the 3 different ships from 3 different eras is safe (there are various “defects” to find.)

The movement is teleportation based for the purpose of making as accessible as possible and avoiding motion sickness which it does well.

The sense of scale you get from being on board the ship is incredible, it feels like you are really on board, the sense of presence and 3D is excellent also.

It would have been much better to make this app a lot more educational; there are conceivably so many questions that need answering about the ships, and exactly what you are doing and why, like “What type of vessel is this?”, “What was it used for?” “How was it built?”, “When was it used most?”.  That is the sort of thing that would have made it a much more complete and interesting experience, but there was nothing. It is at freely available, a relatively short and easy experience, and given that it is free I do think it is worth a look, but the developers could have done so much more with this idea for very little extra work and made it into something much more memorable and special.

Music and sound:

There is some relaxing background music which makes the game more enjoyable, as well as some narration explaining the goals of what it is you are tasked to do. This was well done.

What others are saying:

Published by The Lloyd’s Register Foundation Heritage & Education Centre – a UK-based maritime archive, you act as a surveyor to explore various ships throughout history in VR. Against the clock, users must navigate through faithfully recreated environments to identify various faults onboard three different historical vessels.


Final thoughts:

As a free experience it is definitely worth the download; give it a try, you’ll enjoy feeling a sense of presence as if you were truly on board these magnificent ships.