Jul 13th 2017

Weekly Tech Review – Week 2 Google Expeditions + Google Cardboard


Last week we launched our Weekly Tech Review, where we started testing and reviewing all things digital. We started off with taking virtual tours using Google Cardboard and the Google Arts and Culture app – you can see our first blog here.

 

Google Expeditions + Google Cardboard

Overview:

Google Expeditions is a virtual-reality teaching tool. Users (or explorers) can swim with sharks, visit outer space, walk through a museum, and more, from the comfort of a house – or a classroom. It was originally created to target students within the classroom environment, but we believe there are countless possibilities for its use and applicability. Just to give you an idea, there are close to 500 expeditions available and more in development.

Similar to our review last week of the virtual reality tours on the Google Arts and Culture app, the aim of this review is to gain an idea of the user experience. Again, we are gauging whether it would be useful for Cornish Museums to create their own expeditionsfor others to experience.

In order to go on such virtual adventures, we, again, used Google Cardboard – available for under £10. Google Cardboard instantly transforms your smartphone into a virtual reality viewer. For the purposes of this review, we selected four different virtual expeditions; (i) the Parthenon, (ii) the Canterbury Cathedral, (iii) the London Transport Museum & their stores, and (iv) the Great Wall of China.

Equipment needed:

Instructions:

  1. Bear in mind that Google Expeditions only works with minimum 2 people: a Guide and at least one Explorer. Everyone needs to be connected to the same WIFI network for the app to work.
  2. First of all, you need to download the Google Cardboard App. This is free (see above).
  3. Open the Google Cardboard App and follow the online instructions to link your phone to your Google Cardboard.
  4. Next, download the Google Expeditions App from your smartphone’s app store. This is free (see above).
  5. Open the app on your smartphone. The person who is the Guide must open the app first and select the Tour Guide option. Then, the Explorer(s), who will also be the one(s) using Google Cardboard, must open the app and ‘follow’ the Tour Guide.
  6. The Guide then has control which expedition to take the Explorer(s) on. They select and download an expedition to, and it then automatically loads on the Explorer(s)’ smartphone.
  7. The Explorer(s) must then insert their smartphone onto Google Cardboard, and the tour starts.
  8. The Guide can read out loud an information text on their screen while the Explorer(s) are talking the tour, focus the Explorer’s attention on specific objects by tapping onto them, and ask questions at the end of the tour.
  9. Enjoy!

Pros:

  • The Google Expeditions app was free to download and Google Cardboard was cheap to buy, making it accessible to a wider audience
  • The experience was engaging, educational and immersive.
  • The visual quality in Google Expeditions was much better than Google Arts and Culture. It was not as jumpy and the users felt more comfortable after they removed Google Cardboard.
  • The Google Expeditions app offers a wide selection of expeditions (virtual tours) – both geographically and thematically, indoors and outdoors.
  • The Guide option allows access to specialist information and a list of questions for the Explorer(s). This is very easy to use by both parties.
  • In addition to the above, the app allows the Guide to focus on specific objects each time, enabling more coordination and cohesion within larger groups of Explorers.

Cons:

  • You can’t go on Google Expeditions unless you use it with at least one more person.
  • The app and the expedition takes a while to load and connect the Guide with the Explorer(s). It might be good to ensure you are using a fast WIFI connection.

General Feedback:

Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed this experience. We got to go to so many different places and learn so much without physically being there. We truly believe that this is a huge possibility for museums in Cornwall to be accessible to everyone within the county and the UK in general, and even globally. Museums have to potentially provide high quality images and content (information and questions).

Score:

  • Price: 5/5
  • Ease of use: 4.5/5
  • Educational benefit: 5/5
  • Fun: 5/5
Total: 19.5/20

 

Jenny Lee and Yiota Liopetriti