The School of Pharmacy at Griffith University’s innovative virtual learning environment introduce students to a whole new way of learning. Instead of the usual teaching tools the facility’s classroom has now been fully equipped with six seamlessly edge-blended Epson high brightness projectors, ultra-short throw interactive projectors and the very latest Moverio BT-300 augmented reality smartglasses. “This cutting edge facility is the future of technology-driven education and provides students with a truly immersive virtual environment,” says Dr Gary Grant, Deputy Head (Learning and Teaching) from the School of Pharmacy.
The new teaching tool offers students a totally immersive and interactive experience enabling them to work in different environments including hospital and community pharmacy from anywhere in the world without ever having to leave the classroom.
“Students are able to completely control the pace of their learning and interact with virtual patients in more or less any environment that is relevant to their work-integrated learning needs,” says Dr Grant. “One big advantage of the new technology is to facilitate better student preparation for placements which gives both the student and their supervisor a better on-site experience.” To get to this point Grant and his team undertook a great deal of research into the latest in AR and projection technology and how it could best serve their needs. He continued, “Our research team in the School of Pharmacy was looking for a solution to easily develop and research augmented reality counselling for pharmacy students and healthcare professionals. The application was originally developed for the Epson Moverio BT-200, but has since moved to the BT-300 and this is now currently a part of our Master of Medical Research project.”
Grant had very specific requirements and searched every possible technology provider for someone who could fulfil them. He added, “Projection was a given and we knew smartglasses were the way forward but finding the right ones took some time as we wanted a dual-vision heads-up OLED display that was easy to use, had a small frame and an integrated camera for augmented reality. They also needed to be capable of running applications like Wikitude and be able to display web-based content with great clarity. Finally it had to be an affordable solution. When all of our research was concluded there was only one solution that met all of these requirements, the Epson Moverio AR smartglasses.”
Grant and his team use the Moverio smartglasses linked to the Epson projectors for research and educational purposes. Medicine containers, or “markers”, are identified using Wikitude and counselling information is augmented in the Moverio’s heads-up display. Participants are introduced to the product and then work through a session of counselling using the augmented counselling guide that’s presented to whoever is wearing the smartglasses and those watching the edge-blended projection. Participants then complete a technology acceptance survey to inform the re-design and refinement of the counselling guide.
According to Grant using the Epson Moverio smartglasses now allows the facility to teach in a way they never have been able to before. He continued, “The Moverio BT-300 are incredibly easy to use and manipulate with little to no programming knowledge. These amazing smartglasses allow for the deployment of augmented content at an affordable price so it’s the technology the smartglasses provide us with and its uniqueness that are the real wow factors.” The six Epson G-Series projectors in the classroom are all connected via HDMI with a single remote controller managing the entire network. Each projector has its own dongle, LAN and WiFi transmitter so teachers can easily multi-demonstrate. The monitors used in the teaching room are all touchscreen and the ability to switch between screens and inputs is seamless.
Grant continued, “It really is an incredibly efficient and effective way to teach and learn. We can easily plug in the students’ laptops and iPads and that gives us an instant team-based learning approach. Often we have up to 40 students in five teams working on five screens simultaneously displaying the same content. By using Epson’s Easy Interactive software we can annotate as we go and create a real crowd-sourcing environment. The projectors are so good and so adjustable that we can manipulate any image to cover almost half the room.”
Grant has set the classroom up so he can integrate any number of the projectors with the Moverio BT-300 smartglasses. This makes the learning process particularly fluid as he explained, “We can flick between sources and displays seamlessly and rapidly. It’s total interactivity with augmented reality. The Moverio BT-300 are connected via a wireless dongle to our main PC which gives them immediate access to the multiple displays and tablets. As a result we use the BT-300 to find products in the dispensary for the students to work with in realtime and, as all the projectors are linked, all the students are seeing what the wearer of the BT-300 is seeing so it’s a complete, activity-based learning situation.”
For Grant the implementation of the Moverio BT-300 smartglasses with the Epson projectors has allowed the university to take learning to a whole new level but he sees this as just the beginning. He added, “Soon we will be able to wear the BT-300, look at a patient and dispense medication all via the menu system within the smartglasses. The BT-300 allows true AI and true accessibility of information in realtime whilst teaching, learning and practicing medicine and bridges the gap between innovation and education.”
Dr. Gary Grant is clearly delighted with the virtual learning environment they have created at the School of Pharmacy at Griffith University as he concluded, “The Epson projectors are dynamic and their ease of tethering and seamless edge blending is particularly impressive. They create an easy to use interactive tool and as projection still carries an enormous wow factor over flat panels, give a far greater engagement and captivation level than you will ever get with a screen. When you combine this with the Moverio BT-300 smartglasses it’s as close to being in the environment you’re projecting as you can be without actually being there. This combination is far more collaborative than any other teaching solution in the market. The fact that the Moverio BT-300 is an augmented reality solution is also a major plus over virtual reality solutions as AR is an inclusive technology whereas VR is exclusive.”