4 Getting Started with the Immersive Technologies

The hype about emerging technologies is never-ending. When it comes to immersive technologies, the hype is even higher. Sometimes educators are impressed with the possibilities, but they lack the skills to use them. Other times, the issue with the new technology coming into the classroom is the high cost. This is especially true for immersive technologies, such as AR and VR. This chapter presents a wide range of tools that are available to show language educators how to get started with them, from the technical point of view. Most language instructors may not consider themselves particularly skilled at using advanced technologies such as Augmented or Virtual Reality. However, most of the new tools are considerably easy to use.

This chapter is divided into two sections. In the first part, available hardware devices along with the requirements to use them will be explained, so that educators can choose the best tool that fits their needs. In the second part, some helpful tips will be presented to make the technology adoption process easier.

Hardware Devices for Augmented Reality

Augmented reality can be experienced using different hardware: mobile AR; data glasses; AR headsets; AR glasses and AR contact lenses.

Mobile AR: Mobile AR is the most used hardware to view AR experiences, and only requires a mobile device such as a smartphone or a tablet computer. Mobile AR also is the most convenient and inexpensive way of using AR technologies. The users experience the AR via layers reflected on their mobile devices, where real and virtual images merge. The AR tools available for mobile AR devices are probably the most mature platforms, so users can select from a wide range of options. However, the immersion or interaction with the virtual environment is quite low with the mobile AR.

Interfaces: Vuforia (AR developer kit)

Applications: Metaverse Studio, Aero, Pokemon Go, Google AR tools, such as Google Lens, Google Translate and Google Maps, Mondly, SketchAR.

Data Glasses: These types of AR technologies are seamlessly integrated into sunglasses, so they look very much like traditional sunglasses. However, in most cases, they can still be easily differentiated from the sunglasses, by the additional cameras attached to them. The users wearing the AR glasses are exposed to additional information in their field of view. Sometimes, audio is used to complement the 3D AR experience. Compared to the other AR devices, AR glasses are one of the most expensive ones. The platforms for data glasses are as developed as some of the other options. However, in the industries dealing with heavy machinery AR glasses are heavily used for manufacturing, such as maintenance of the equipment, assembly, or quality control.

Devices: Amazon Echo Frames, Ray-Ban Stories, Magic Leap 1.

AR Headsets: Sometimes called smart glasses, AR headsets are similar to the data glasses, but they are wearable headsets that provide more immersive experiences than the data glasses. The field of the view is much larger and has features like hand tracking. Hand tracking allows users to touch and grasp virtual objects without using hand controllers. AR headsets are quite expensive tools that are commonly used in chemical engineering, health sciences as well as in military training. The collaboration feature allows its users to work on projects simultaneously.

Devices: Microsoft Hololens, Lenovo ThinkReality A3.

AR Glasses: AR glasses are much more advanced data glasses, where virtual and physical worlds are seamlessly integrated with life-size images guiding the users. The current versions of AR glasses are quite expensive. It should be noted that AR glasses are still in the experimental stage.

Devices: In development

AR Contact Lenses: Another wearable technology with limited use but high potential for future development is AR contact lenses. Only a few companies produce these lenses. According to Bezmalinovic (2022), AR lenses are mostly used in medical settings, such as treating certain eye diseases. An additional computer device is needed to properly use these lenses.

Devices: Lens Studio, Snap AR, Mojo Lens

Hardware Devices for Virtual Reality

Compared to the various types of AR devices, VR technologies are more homogenous as there are only two types of VR devices that provide extensive immersion in the virtual world. These two types are standalone or tethered VR.

Standalone VR: Sometimes called mobile VR, this type of VR device has all the necessary components integrated into the headset. However, often they are paired with a mobile phone or a computer. Compared to tethered VR, they are less expensive devices.

Examples: Meta Quest 2 (could also be used with a PC) and Meta Quest Pro, Pico 4, Microsoft Hololens, Lenovo Mirage

Tethered VR: Tethered VR headset requires the use of a PC or a game console and cannot function on its own. Because they are attached to a much more powerful device, they do have more advanced head-tracking and motion-sensing features.

Examples: HTC Vive Pro2, Samsung Odyssey, Lenovo Explorer, HP Reverb

360 Virtual Reality Videos  

360 videos are not new, but with the advances in Virtual Reality technologies, they became part of the immersive experiences. Many industries, such as journalism, real estate, and hospitality started experimenting first with the 360 videos (See Further Resources at the end of this chapter for some of the best examples of 360 videos that can be used for educational purposes). Social media platforms, such as Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, and Instagram all support 360 content.

360 videos are shot from multiple angles, providing an immersive 360 view of the environment. The viewers can either use their computers to view the experience in a less immersive mode and move the video with their mouse, touchpad, or touchscreen or use a VR headset for a much more immersed experience. The 360 VR videos can be produced in two ways: with a special 360 video camera or via simulations using computer graphics. An important concept to help understand the difference between the two types of 360 videos is the sense or perception of depth. If the sense of depth is the same for both the left and right eye, the VR experience is monoscopic, while the stereoscopic view presents different perspectives for each eye. In this e-book, 360 videos are especially emphasized because of their ease of use for language teaching and learning.

360 Cameras: GoPro Max, Insta 360, Ricoh Teta

How to Capture 360 VR Videos

What to Capture– 360 video cameras use two fisheye cameras to capture a 360 view of the environment from multiple angles. Special software is used to assemble separate images through a process called ‘stitching.’ While capturing 360 videos, it is important to understand that the special VR cameras capture a wide angle, so pointing or zooming the camera to a person or an object will not work, because the camera will capture an entire environment, not just the object in focus. Therefore, while capturing 360 videos the first thing to pay attention to is the placement of the camera to get the best view of the environment.

How to Capture– All 360 cameras are paired with a mobile device, so the users control the capturing process remotely to avoid getting into the video themselves. Some types of cameras can also be attached to smartphones via a selfie stick, allowing the user to capture themselves during an action. The camera can be placed either on a tripod or a smooth surface. To provide the most realistic immersive experience for the viewers, cameras are ideally placed at eye level, so the users can feel like they are in the video.



Bezmalinovic, T. (2022, April 3). Augmented Reality: Hardware and definitions. Retrieved from https://mixed-news.com/en/augmented-reality-hardware-and-definitions/.


Educational 360 VR Resources