VR Education from Waterford is redefining educational and historical experiences through virtual reality.
Irish virtual-reality (VR) and augmented-reality (AR) software firm VR Education Holdings has released a new historical VR experience entitled Raid on the Ruhr, which recreates in realistic detail the epic Dambusters raid of World War II.
Set in 1943 amid the RAF’s bombing campaign on Germany’s industrial centres, Raid on the Ruhr allows players to fly, shoot and bomb their way through the Ruhr Valley, in this retelling of the real mission that helped inspire the iconic Star Wars trench run sequence.
It is the latest historical recreation by the Waterford-based tech firm and its subsidiary, Immersive VR Education, which includes a repertoire that brings VR users back to crucial moments in time, such as the the sinking of the Titanic and the Apollo 11 space mission.
Last year the company, a previous Start-up of the Week on Siliconrepublic.com, worked with the BBC central VR team to develop 1943: Berlin Blitz, a recreation of the experience of a World War II bombing raid over Berlin.
Raid on the Ruhr will launch today (29 March) for PC and VR on the Steam platform.
“We wanted to give players the feeling of just how dangerous and daring this mission was,” explained Bobby Greaney, director of VR Education. “These airmen took an enormous bomber and flew below radar, some of them skimming water and flying under the treeline. Many crashed before getting to the target, and these were among the most highly skilled pilots in the world at the time.”
Greaney explained that a large amount of research went into the project. Throughout the game, radio snippets tell you the fate of several crews on the mission.
“133 airmen took off from Scampton. 53 never returned on the night and many more didn’t survive the war. Nowadays, there’s only one Dambuster still living. It’s more important than ever that this story isn’t forgotten.”
The game features several modes, including Story, Infinite and Cinematic. Story mode retells the mission’s final approach on the Möhne Dam, with the player taking on the role of the crew of Lancaster Bomber AJ-J (“J for Johnny”). Gameplay alternates between the pilot, rear gunner and bomber as they desperately try to stay alive and complete their objective.
Cinematic mode is for those interested in purely the historical side of the mission, or more casual users of VR, while two Infinite modes allow the player to compete on leader boards to try to stay alive for as long as possible, flying or shooting their way through Nazi Germany.
The virtual future of education and training
VR Education was founded by husband-and-wife team David and Sandra Whelan. The company last year raised £6m in a listing on Dublin’s Enterprise Securities Market and the AIM in London.
Its Immersive VR Education platform provides VR content that can be used in schools, colleges, universities, research centres and corporate training to teach any subject in a virtual environment. Students can fully immerse themselves in the experience, making hard-to-visualise concepts easy to understand.
For example, earlier this week it emerged that the company has developed a VR solution for healthcare in partnership with Oxford University that will help to train health professionals in Kenya.
“We have developed Life-saving Instruction for Emergencies (LIFE) to allow more health workers access to high-quality training, and to overcome the challenge of dispersed medical and nursing training across Kenya,” David explained. “We have developed a mobile and VR platform to teach health workers how to manage medical emergencies – initially to provide training in caring for very sick newborn babies and children.”