Cyber Talk Radio: The Future of AR & VR Learning

Bret Piatt, CTR Host, Steve Patti and Jeremy Kenisky of MERGE - Episode 123 of Cyber Talk Radio

This past Saturday, February 2, episode 123 of Cyber Talk Radio hit the air on 1200 WOAI and iHeartRadio streaming. I was joined by Steve Patti, chief marketing officer, and Jeremy Kenisky, vice president of creative at MERGE, to discuss the emergence of augmented and virtual reality products for use in education and training.

In the first half of the episode, Steve and Jeremy introduce their experience in the field and their current roles at MERGE. One of MERGE's first retail products to hit the shelves was a headset. I recall a fun memory when I witnessed MERGE conducting an experiment and dropped the headset eight stories in the Rand Building downtown, and the cell phone inside was still in one piece (a video of this can be found here. What’s the difference between AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality)? AR takes the real world that we see and changes or adds to it in someway, like Pokemon Go, which means they are doing a lot through computer camera vision. Jeremy mentions the MERGE Cube, which is a part of this aspect. It tricks the brain into believing that the cube is another object in the augmented world. VR, on the other hand, creates a completely new world for users. What are some of the different VR choices and systems? There are three tiers to VR: tethered Oculus (Playstation, HTC, etc.), all-in-ones (Oculus Go or Oculus Quest) and mobile (space for a device to be dropped in front of the device where the screen would be, which is accessible to anyone). MERGE is in the mobile space. I mention a past Cyber Talk Radio episode with DC Industries where we talked about VR cybersecurity training. How did MERGE get into the education space? Steve and Jeremy share a story about how Walmart over ordered the MERGE Cubes and tried to clear out the stock in March/April of 2017. Teachers were going into the stores and cleaning the shelves buying up the cubes for their classrooms. MERGE then went to an educational tech show in Chicago and had an overwhelming response to their product at the exhibit hall. The Texas Computer Education Association Convention is coming to San Antonio so be sure to check out the conference for the latest in educational technology!

After the break, we discuss MERGE in the app store and marketplace — the majority of apps to use in AR/VR are from other developers, but MERGE made their own content portal called Miniverse, where all apps are screened. If you are building software, you can submit your app to their store. They also offer software development kits (SDKs) for developers. What do parents do in terms of watching over their kid’s use of AR and downloading different apps? MERGE has created their brand’s position around trust in terms of safety and appropriateness, and does not give kids free reign online. Most software is built according to the Next Generation Science Standards. In terms of learning, did you know we retain between 70—90 percent of what we do by experiencing it? This presentation of information, called active learning, has legitimate learning acceleration behind it. AR is allowing educators to engage all of the student’s senses to build better experiences and memories. Lastly, we discuss predictions about where AR/VR is heading. Hopefully, kids will be using AR/VR everyday in their future job roles.

Listen to the full episode replay to learn more about augmented and virtual reality technology.

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