Month: April 2022

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Work Experiences in Mersus Technologies

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Article by: Malcolm Forbes and Andris Orna

Publishing Date: 7th March 2022

As a student I would say it is great to see a company giving students the opportunity to work with a team like Mersus Technologies. It is not easy to find internships in a small town like Athlone. Since we have been restricted by COVID, it has been even harder to find placements, without being able to meet employers face to face.

Sometimes you need to meet to find out what a person (or company) is really like. I hope the restrictions will be over and people will have more freedom soon. Mersus Technologies are providing everything that interns need, trying to find solutions for every issue and problem. And it’s not only software or hardware that a student needs – the management team was so professional and friendly, welcoming me into the team.

The office environment is comfortable, which helps with the development process, and encourages productivity. Also I would like to mention that daily meetings are very important to the work in Mersus Technologies, and help everyone to work well as a team, and give colleagues help when needed.

“It’s so much easier to suggest solutions when you don’t know too much about the problem.”

Malcolm Forbes

Doing my internship in Mersus Technologies has been great for gaining knowledge not only in coding the software but getting involved in the design of objects for Virtual Reality projects.

The look of these objects and how they interact in the scene is important to creating convincing virtual worlds . The team work together to solve problems that arise. Testing the apps together is another very important step before  releasing the product to the market.

Testing and giving feedback is well organised, and the team log errors, bugs, ideas, feedback every day. Commenting on the tested project is helpful for projects in the future, and all the knowledge gained can be carried into new projects.   

“Thumbs up for Mersus Technologies!”

-Andris Orna 

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How is virtual training cost effective?

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Article by: Simon Lesné

Publishing Date: 9th March 2022

The psychology of retaining information

In the late 19th century, German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus demonstrated how people retain information and named his hypothesis the ‘forgetting curve’. He stated that in traditional learning environments such as classrooms, the average learner will forget half of the information received within the first hour.

A day later, this number is up to 70%, and without any repetition of the lesson, close to 90% of the information is gone from our memory after a month. This theory still holds true today, as shown in the recent State of Learning report[1] from online learning provider Cerego, which found similar numbers in a study they conducted with their online students.

To overcome this disadvantage inherent to our brains, researchers have looked into the role played by emotions in our recollection of events and facts, and several studies[2] have highlighted the fact that we remember more of a situation when strong emotions were associated with it. One of the key feature of virtual reality is its ability to trick our brains into thinking it evolves in the real world, narrowing the gap between the subject and the medium it interacts with.

This immersion allows for a broader range of experiences where our senses and emotions are triggered in a believable way. This has been used in clinical environments in what was called therapy fear, where patients exposed to various threatening situations related to a phobia reported feelings of anxiety similar to those they experience in real conditions. The control over the environment that VR offers allowed for repeated sessions in a safe environment where patients were able to learn to overcome their fear at a faster pace than with traditional therapy[3].

Virtual learning and gamification

Digital game-based learning has been growing rapidly since the democratisation of computers and mobile devices, and virtual reality devices have already yield promising results in a vast array of VR training situations and social experiments, from helping professional athletes reach their potential[4], to demonstrating the positive effects of virtual reality simulations on the empathy, behaviour and awareness of the learners regarding endangered species or natural environments[5].

Where virtual reality shines in comparison to its digital counterparts, it is in its ability to replicate any situation or environment while placing the learner at the centre of the stage, free to navigate and interact with the virtual world almost as they would in real life. It provides a credible reproduction of a real-world simulation that can be adjusted to fit the training goal and coupled with game mechanics to keep the learner engaged: constraints of speed, of complexity, scoring system, social competition…

This freedom and control from the subject on the exploration of its environment has the advantage of enhancing visual memory compared to a two-dimensional medium[6], as well as being able to develop a muscle memory of an action that could reveal difficult or expensive to artificially reproduce solely for training purposes.

The same mechanisms can be applied in a learning environment using game-based learning, a method that combines educational content with game mechanics, helping the learners stay engaged with the content and motivated by the constant feedback loop that games create.

Costs and the potential for vr training

According to the latest Training Industry Report[7] which looks at the training expenditures of US companies of various sizes, the average cost of training for large companies was above $22,000,000 (€20,000,000) in 2020, and growing.

VR training has a wide range of potential applications across all fields of work, and the Industrial Design Consultancy expects the sector to contribute €260 billion to the global economy by the end of the decade, putting it at the forefront of the new technologies in the training and educational field.

Virtual Reality has the potential to offer efficient, adaptable and cost-effective training to a growing number of companies at a cost that keeps declining as the technology improves and the devices gain in popularity and performance.

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Developments in VR Hand Tracking

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Article by: Imran

Publishing Date: 7th March 2022

Introduction

In the world of virtual reality, hand tracking allows the user to interact with the virtual world without the use of controller devices and instead use a virtual representation of their physical hands within the virtual world. This allows for more immersion and “realism” within the virtual world. 

In the real world your hands are not bound to controller devices as you interact with the real world, and this allows for a lot of freedom for your hands. The current and further developments of hand tracking within virtual reality will allow for a similar level of freedom and realism when it comes to interactions in the virtual world.

Developments in VR Hand Tracking:

Hand tracking in virtual reality has come a long way since one of the first developments in hand tracking in 1982. This hand tracking was achieved using Sayre gloves, which are wired gloves. These gloves achieved hand tracking by using light emitters that hit the photocells in different ways depending on the finger movements of the wired gloves, these photocells would then convert these movements into electrical signals [1].

One of the many current developments in VR hand tracking allows for hands-free hand tracking without controllers or gloves. One of the ways this is achieved is through the combined effort of VR hand tracking hardware, VR tracking software, and VR tracking tools and applications. 

The tracking hardware uses sensors that are built into the virtual reality headset that collect hand data like positions, rotations, and movements of your hands. The VR tracking software and engine will then process the gathered data (positions, rotations, and movements of the hands) to generate a pair of hands within the virtual world that are a representation of your pair of hands in the real world.

When the real hands have been tracked and a pair of virtual hands have been created within the virtual world, the virtual reality applications and tools will then use the virtual hands to allow for interactions in the virtual world using hand gestures that are similar to the interactions that real hands will have in the real world. 

The user will be able to grab a specific object the same way you would grab it in the real world, for example grabbing a cup by its handle in the virtual world like you would in the real world. The user could poke, touch, and scroll specific objects in the virtual world similar to how you poke and scroll on the screen of a smartphone, or press on the keys of a keyboard with your fingers, and touch a button [2].

Conclusion

Virtual reality and hand tracking in virtual reality has clearly come a long way since the 1980s, we went from wired gloves using photocells that sent electrical signals as a way to track hand movements towards having a virtual reality headset with the tracking sensors built into the headset that allowed for tracking of the positions, rotations and movements of the hands and creating virtual representation of these hands in the virtual world. This then allowed for virtual hand tracking and interactions that are similar to the hand interactions, we have in the real world without mostly needing controllers or wired gloves.

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