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Source: VictoryVR

VR infiltrates science classrooms, saves frogs from dissection

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Dec 26, 2018, 12:15 PM EST

We at SYFY WIRE love VR. Nothing feels more sci-fi than putting on a visor and being transported into a new world thanks to virtual reality. It’s as close as we can get to the holodeck. That Star Trek plot device could simulate everything, which means, as VR develops more and more as a technology, it’s getting closer to achieving the same goal. While it can certainly mimic the experience of commanding a spaceship, it also needs to go more mundane - like a classroom exercise. Now, thanks to a partnership between Carolina Biological and VictoryVR, students (and more than a few real-life amphibians) can be thankful that technology has come so far.

The two companies are bringing a VR alternative to the classic science class experience of dissecting a frog. Why? Why not? There was already a Surgeon Simulator that delighted gamers with its sloppy controls and ridiculous bodily reactions.

But VR can also provide a solution for students that would rather not slice and dice an innocent toad. With opt-out laws providing students with the guarantee for an alternative lesson, VR could step in to provide a harmless exercise. “Virtual reality provides the closest substitute to the real thing,” said VictoryVR CEO Steve Grubbs in a release. The website also cites the “rapidly declining worldwide frog population” as a reason for its more environmentally-friendly approach.

There’s even a hologram teacher. Yikes. Wendy Martin has been digitized to provide instruction as students chop up their floppy virtual hopper, making the experience more lifelike and replicating the classroom experience. No word on if she can dole out virtual detentions for acting up, however. The game, which works with HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Windows Mixed Reality headsets, seems just bonkers.

Take a look:

The combination of the rubbery, hyperactive physics of the frog and the FMV realism of the teacher makes it seem like this experience will be much more than a humane alternative. The demo video below has plenty of amusing moments, from the holo-teacher’s teleporting entrance to the floating “inner-monologue” text emphasizing the relationship between frog organs and human organs, making the case for an experience far more fun (and with far less formaldehyde) than the typical dissection:

A school license for the program will run you $500, with an individual license priced at $250 - just in case you wanted to do some solo dissection work on your own. That may price out aspiring Let's Players hoping to make YouTube videos of the oddball offering. Frog VR technology is expected to roll out during the first quarter of 2019, with five other animals (Cats? Pigs? Human beings?) hitting the market over the course of the year. Star Trek, here we come.