Virtual Reality

Computer Builder Customizes PCs for Virtual Reality Program

zSpace is partnering with the Shuttle Computer Group to customize PCs that can accommodate the technology provider's desktop virtual reality program.

zSpace for Education allows students — both K-12 and in higher education — to manipulate virtual 3D objects that range everywhere from human hearts to helicopters, all in an effort to learn concepts like math, physics, engineering and biology.

Because of the unusual demands on computer hardware due to the 3D applications, zSpace is working with the company that specializes in customizing PC hardware. In the past, Shuttle has done similar work for digital signage and interactive kiosks.

"Our customization for zSpace is very specific," said Marty Lash, Shuttle director of sales and marketing, "including hardware tweaks, custom imaging and tailored packaging. They can't buy off-the-shelf computers."

The PCs come with high-speed head-tracking, special AR/VR glasses (or clip-ons if you already wear glasses) plus a "virtual reality stylus" that lets a student control what's on screen by hovering it above the display. A browser operates in much the same way. For example, instead of a simple flat Web page, the zBrowser lets you select certain images and manipulate them around.

The streamlined hardware and software platforms allow students from K-12 to medical school the opportunity to manipulate virtual, 3D objects ranging from building circuitry to experimenting with gravity. The virtual reality environment includes more than 250 science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) lesson plans aligned to the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards. Each one provides a realistic learning environment, opportunities for individualized learning and virtual images and many offer multi-sensory feedback.

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.