Have you ever been irritated while watching a virtual learning session because another user's avatar was blocking your view? You wished you could just look "through" this avatar to see what's happening behind. Thankfully, a new patent, US11734906B2, by VR-EDU has been developed to help solve this issue.
Before this invention, in a virtual tutoring environment, as multiple students try to engage with on-screen content, it’s common for learners' avatars to obstruct the view of others. In the physical world, to deal with this, teachers typically invite students one by one to approach the teaching board. This ensures everyone gets a clear view and reduces the confusion that can be caused by overcrowding.
However, in the online world, regulating avatar movement wasn't so easy. That difference often led to interruptions in learning, reducing the effectiveness of virtual classrooms. This issue was further amplified when we consider users had no control over how others' avatars appeared, which could sometimes lead to discomfort or distraction.
But this new patent proposes a much-needed solution. It introduces a mechanism that makes user avatars "transparent" when they are obstructing another user's view. This allows students to see through the avatar and access the blocked content. With this, even when someone's avatar is right in front of an important point on the screen, learners wouldn’t need to miss out on any vital information.
Visualizing this in day-to-day situations, imagine you're in a virtual physics lesson and trying to understand the concept being drawn on the whiteboard, but another student’s avatar is continually obstructing your view. With this patent implemented, the obstructing character would instantly become transparent, providing you with an unobstructed view of the lesson, and preventing any unnecessary learning disruption.
It's important to remember while this innovative patent paints an exciting picture of future virtual classroom possibilities, it does not necessarily guarantee this feature will appear in platforms we use every day. Patents are, after all, rights to an invention and not a mandatory upgrade.
The interesting intersection of technology and pedagogy here points toward the forward strides being made to make online learning increasingly intuitive and user-friendly. However, the timeline and manner in which these advancements will become commonplace still remain to be seen.
P.S. The invention described is a patent, and while it shows much promise, there is no guarantee it will become commercially available or be implemented as envisioned.