A Sneak Peek at an Upcoming Episode of the Metaverse Newscast: the Engage Educational VR Platform

The Metaverse Newscast is branching out! All eight of the episodes that my producer, Andrew William of Imagine That Productions, and I have released so far have been set in either High Fidelity or Linden Lab’s Sansar. But we have decided to start covering other platforms as well.

Last Saturday Andrew and I, plus our new lead editor Joey Jonaitis, spent well over two hours recording footage in Engage, an innovative educational VR platform. I interviewed Chris Madsen, who is in charge of Business Development at Immersive VR Education (the parent company of Engage) in various experiences on the platform, including a hospital in Kenya and even the surface of Mars!

One of the many amazing features of Engage is the ability to record three-dimensional video, which can then be played back and viewed from any angle! Chris, Andrew, and Joey shot a lot of 3D footage (as well as regular, “flat” footage) which will be used in the creation of this episode. Andrew and I are grateful that we have Joey’s experience with video editing as part of our team!

Here’s a shot of Chris and I that Andrew took in a recreation of a reading room at the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford within Engage (the face on Chris’ avatar was generated using a single front profile photograph, another cool feature of Engage):

Chris Madsen and Ryan Schultz in ENGAGE (from Andrew’s blog)

Here’s a sneak peek at a segment that will form part of the final episode:

We don’t have a release date yet, and there are several other Metaverse Newscast episodes that are still in production, which will probably be released before this one. After spending 2 to 3 hours in VR headsets, we were all exhausted, and when I was done, I was covered in sweat! But it will be a great episode!

Here’s a link to all the past episodes of the Metaverse Newscast on YouTube.

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Chris Madsen Gives Me a Guided Tour of the Engage Social VR Platform

Yesterday, Chris Madsen, who works in business development at Immersive VR Education (the creators of the Engage social VR platform), gave me and Andrew a personal guided tour of Engage. Among other experiences, we visited the surface of Mars, and took a look at an interactive model of the Mars Curiosity rover:

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We also visited a talk show set:

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And we wrapped it up at a virtual recreation of the Neolithic henge monument at Avebury in England:

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The Curiosity experience included a look at how the rover landed on the Mars surface; it was amazing to watch the entire procedure unfold!

Chris has some pretty great stories to tell about the early days of social VR development from five years ago, so I hope to interview him this fall for my Metaverse Newscast show. Thanks to my producer Andrew to taking these pictures using the Snapshot feature in Engage!

Engage: A Brief Introduction

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A Lecture Theatre in Engage

Andrew (the producer for our upcoming show Metaverse Newscast) told me about Engage, which is a free social VR platform for educational purposes:

The Engage platform is a free to use social education and presentation platform. Engage allows you to hold meetings, classes, private lessons and presentations with people from all around the world in a safe virtual multi user environment.

You can record and create your own lessons and presentations inside Engage using our recorder feature and you can add in immersive elements such as virtual objects for people to interact with or visit virtual environments such as the surface of Mars.

Why teach marine biology in a class room when you can teach it on the sea bed. Why travel thousands of miles for a single meeting when you can do it virtually. We are excited to see how people like you will utilize the Engage platform to educate the world.

When using the Engage platform you are given access to the Engage presenter tablet. You use this virtual tablet in the same way as a real life ipad or tablet.

On the tablet, you are given recording options. When you select record, the Engage platform will record everything you say and do within the virtual space along with any presentations, virtual objects and media you share in the virtual room. This recording is saved onto your hard drive for you to review.

If you are happy with your performance you can share it privately with other users in your virtual room or choose to upload it to the Engage platform for the public to view at their own convenience.

There are several multimedia sample lessons, including a lesson on the Mars Curiousity Rover. You are able to walk around a model of the rover on the surface of Mars, and click on various features for an explanation of what they do:

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Here’s a short promotional YouTube video about the Engage platform:

Engage is currently available through the Early Access Program on Steam. I’m really impressed by what I saw in Engage, and it will be an interesting social VR platform to watch as it develops.