Virtual reality provides unique opportunities in the maker context. The Virtual reality tools used in the NiMC project focused on Collaboration, Digital Design, and Exploration. Collaboration tools focused on platforms and apps that provide multi-user interaction. Digital Design software and platforms need to have the capability to export function the designs, such as, fbx, stl, obj, etc. VR software also includes software and platforms that allowed for users to explore the VR experience.
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Software Examples used in project
Below are examples of the software used in the NiMC project. The NiMC project leads evaluated software on its ability to support the project. The software needs to allow for multi-user interaction, as the project team is focused on connecting makers and mentors. The design software needed the ability to export in a format that could be utilized with other tools for the intentional manufacturing of designed artifacts.
Similar to real-world interaction with makers in discussing and sharing projects, VR provides a similar experience. One of the great uses of VR allows students that share the opportunity to connect with others in an environment that they create themselves. The project utilized Mozilla hubs and Spoke to allow students to 're-imagine a design engineering notebook' to share their creations. The VR environment (built on the back of A-frame) is completely designed and curated by the student to 'tell their story.'
Collaborating in VR
Collaboration in VR is similar in many respects to real-world interactions. A shared space, ability to manipulate your surroundings, and having a presence supports the collaborations and interactions in VR.
VR to Realworld
See more about the process here. The process the project used to create something in VR and then manufacture it in the real world, we are calling the Digital to Physical Manifestation process. This process begins with planting some design thinking skills seeds, such as 'delayed judgement, to support the "first creation" in VR. After VR creation the item is then manipulated for manufacturing on a tool: 3d printer; CNC; and/or laser.
The project created a blank virtual world to allow community members and students to rebuild the Sidney in the Virtual world. Participants would check out city blocks as they built them.