Virtual reality has even been adopted by the military for training purposes. This is particularly useful for training soldiers for combat situations or other dangerous settings where they have to learn how to react in the best way possible. A virtual reality simulation enables them to do so but without the risk of death or serious injury. They can re-enact a particular scenario, for example engagement with an enemy in an environment in which they experience this but without the real world risks. This has proven to be safer and much less costly than traditional training methods.
These are examples of both Virtual and Augmented reality that we used within our workshop. It's a fun and interactive way to engage users into mixing virtual and real life.
CONNECTING TWO WORLDS- INTERACTIVITY VIA MICROCONTROLLERS
What Is It?
Microcontrollers are hidden inside a surprising number of products. Basically, any product or device that interacts with its user has a microcontroller buried inside. All computers have a CPU (central processing unit) that executes programmes, aswell as RAM (random-access memory) and both input and output devices. They're particularly useful when you're creating a device that doesn’t need the full power of a computer, but does need to be smaller or less expensive.
Arduino is a specialised project that created microcontroller-based kits for building interactive projects that can sense and control physical devices. Arduino has become quite popular with people just starting out with electronics, because unlike most previous programmable circuit boards, the Arduino does not need a separate piece of hardware (called a programmer) to load new codes – you can just use a USB cable.
This is my group using the 'SparkFun Inventors Kit' that is programmed with Arduino.
There is no doubt that this technology is essential to every day life in every way, even down to use in educating children in the fundamentals and basics of electricity. Microcontrollers are used vastly in everyday items such as dishwashers, remote controls and cars. A modern car can even contain around 40 of them. Advantages of using one would be that the size of a circuit can be reduced significantly, which allows for greater flexibility, therefore they are clearly an incredible piece of technology. I wish I had more time to get to experiment with them, because I am sure I would've grown to appreciate them even more.
What real-world application could you see this being used for?
Educational programmes such as BBC Bitesize have several pages on microcontrollers aimed at children with information that most adults don't even know.
Clive demonstrating the components involved in the making of circuits
These are magnetic circuits from the LittleBits kit that are so simple to use. Here we are making the white disc (on the right) spin when we press the white button (in the middle).
littleBits is a company that makes an open source library of open-source electronics, which clip together with small magnets for prototyping and learning. The littleBits mission is to "put the power of electronics in the hands of everyone, and to break down complex technologies so that anyone can build, prototype, and invent." littleBits units are used in more than 2,000 schools, colleges and more. This is just of one many examples as to how microcontrollers are used to create just about anything we interact with, showing their value to us as technological pieces.
We created something similar in class and controlled it to chase around the toy 'BB8'.