Extended reality helps higher education with “hands on” learning.
“Extended reality (XR) delivers unique learning opportunities and is expected to have a growing and lasting impact on post-secondary instruction—particularly as fast, low-latency 5G networks proliferate.”Tweet this
XR comes of age.
Prior to COVID-19, in most countries lack of funding and reluctance to change made the education sector a laggard in applying new tech innovation.1 But the first half of 2020 saw a tripling of global educational technology investment to $4.5 billion, much of it in higher education.2
In addition to distance learning and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), XR began popping up as a teaching modality for university-level curricula.
San Diego State University in California uses VR to teach students about astronomy concepts that are hard to convey in words and that benefit from visual experience, such as the interplay between the positions of the sun, moon, and Earth in space.3 At Penn State, future railroad engineers use a VR locomotive simulator to drive trains and a virtual welding app to work on tracks.4 An executive MBA program at Fordham University uses VR to demonstrate the power of teamwork and communication by asking one student to deactivate a bomb based on directions from the team.5 Educators are also using a blend of real and virtual curricula in architecture, engineering, astronomy, and other science courses.
Perhaps the most popular application of XR in higher education is in healthcare.
Blending virtual tools with medical training.
“Educators are using AR technologies that blend virtual images and patient data from MRI and CT scans to train nurses and first responders in how to find blood vessels for injections, place endotracheal tubes through the mouth, and keep track of vital signs.”Tweet this
The global 2019 market for AR/VR in healthcare was $850 million and it’s expected to expand to $5.1 billion by 2025, with a lot of the technology used for training.6
Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic have partnered with Microsoft to develop a holographic model of the human body―including everything from veins to bones and organs―for medical courses.7 Students can perform operations, dissect virtual cadavers, and otherwise probe different parts of the holographic body to understand the interplay of various systems.
Educators are also using AR technologies that blend virtual images and patient data from MRI and CT scans to train nurses and first responders in how to find blood vessels for injections, place endotracheal tubes through the mouth, and keep track of vital signs.8
Students at the Kansas University Center for Design Research are working with the nursing school faculty, students, and technical experts at T-Mobile to create new teaching tools for nursing that use VR and AR for training in a range of settings, whether in a university class, performing research in a lab, or working on site at rural clinics or large metro area hospitals.9
Why 5G networks are key.
Low-latency and high-speed broadband are table stakes for XR technology and exactly what 5G networks deliver. By enabling the faster computation and analytics of massive amounts of data, future 5G networks are critical to delivering access to business intelligence everywhere and anywhere. Without low-latency communications and high speeds, organizations must rely on wired or wireless networks that use techniques, like compression, to deliver a steady, high-definition stream. These solutions often fall short of providing the immersive experiences that users require. Worse, lags in data transmission from user actions to in-app displays can create motion sickness.10
Delivered via 5G cellular network; speeds vary due to factors affecting cellular networks. See full terms.
“5G network services reduce latency to less than 1 millisecond, and high-end XR applications can be deployed on mobile devices, increasing the number of use cases and lowering costs of hard-wired, proprietary offerings.”Tweet this
5G network services reduce latency to less than 1 millisecond, compared to 4G’s 42 to 60.5 millisecond range.11 And with 5G, high-end XR applications can be deployed on mobile devices, increasing the number of use cases and lowering costs of hard-wired, proprietary offerings.
T-Mobile has partnered with Georgia Tech to create a 5G Connected Future incubator designed to support innovations using 5G.12 The 500-acre smart city technology park where the incubator is located is a living lab powered by T-Mobile 5G. In addition to supporting 8,000 people who live or work at the incubator, the facility features a 25,000 square foot Innovation Center and 3-mile autonomous vehicle test track. XR is among the 5G use cases, along with autonomous vehicles, robotics, industrial drone applications, remote medical care, personal health, and fitness wearables.
The 5G Open Innovation Lab, co-founded by T-Mobile, is working with an array of companies on XR use cases. One project is transforming video calls into live holograms of participants over 5G. Multiple cameras capture images from all angles to create a 3D image than can be transmitted to phones or PCs. You can virtually move around a person in a 3D setting. The goal is to transform video calls into more natural and intuitive communications.13
Taqtile, a recent graduate of the 5G Open Innovation Lab, is building AR solutions for frontline workers doing cell site upgrades. Workers in the field wear AR headsets connected to T-Mobile's 5G network with content superimposed over the physical environment. They can see diagrams and instructions in real time.
For higher education, the coming wave of XR solutions may represent one of the most disruptive forces in instruction in the coming decades. As Generation Z graduates enter vocational training or university, it stands to reason that they will do at least some of their learning in XR worlds where the only limits are the imagination of developers and teachers.
Are you ready to deliver the classroom of the future to your students and staff and discover the benefits that XR running on 5G networks can deliver? From large universities to rural colleges, T-Mobile has built an infrastructure that can empower you to develop new ways of learning and transform the campus experience.
For more information on how we’re delivering what’s next in higher education, visit T-Mobile.com/HigherEd.