Whilst out Christmas shopping today I picked up the Virtual Explorer Antopia Adventure set in a discount toy store. At just 39aed (that’s about $10 or £8) it seemed like quite a bargain. Several companies have released this sort of VR learning set and often they are quite pricey for what they actually contain but at this price I was happy to pick one up and see what it had to offer.
My youngest daughter and I cracked the set open when we got home and filmed a little impromptu unboxing clip:
So the set contains quite a lot for the price in my opinion. You’re getting a half-decent and robust mobile VR headset that’s easy for kids to operate, the trigger cards to launch both the VR experiences and to look at AR models of a range of ants, the factfile poster and an actual ant farm kits. It’s a great little mix to be honest and I like the fact that it incorporates both AR and VR as well as the equipment needed to observe IRL too!
The experiences themselves are built in Vuforia and a little basic. The AR cards each trigger an animated model of a different type of ant but there’s no additional information available for them beyond the visual. The VR loads in chunks (again triggered by the cards) that shrinks you down to ant-size to watch these fascinating insects at work and learn a little more about them. The scenes do contain information which can be triggered by targeting an icon but audio narration would have been a wise addition, especially as it’s aimed at children. Here’s a screencast clip of both experiences in action:
Of course, there’s nothing to say that you can't use the headset to view other VR content like this nice 360 video of real ants in their natural habitat -
All in all, I was happy with the set and I think it'd make a cheap addition to any classroom that offers an easy way to integrate some immersive technology - perhaps as a part of an independent learning station. I will donate my kit to one of our primary schools at JESS Dubai for the students to explore. It will be interesting to see how they respond to it and whether the VR, AR or Ant Farm become the main attraction.
If you like the look of the set, Amazon have them for about $16. If you like the concept but are not interested in ants, check out there are dinosaur and space themed kits also available. Find out more here.