Seeing is Believing: The Awesomeness that is zSpace

Hmmmm. Let’s see. How about “mesmerized, entranced, flabbergasted, engaged, amazed, inspired, astonished”? Or better yet, “simply blown away”? When asked to describe my zSpace experience at the ISTE Conference in Atlanta, these adjectives constitute my “knee-jerk” reaction.
You see, when I think about my recent test-drive of the zSpace System, which is defined by the self-titled technology provider as “a virtual reality environment for immersive exploration, visualization, and learning,” I find myself with a swirling brain full of positive adjectives that ironically render me nearly speechless. Or at least, struggling to articulate the awesomeness I witnessed with cohesive sentences that accurately encompass my understanding of this 3D educational technology.
Perhaps that’s because navigating through the zSpace System and its virtual lessons while donning 3D glasses and wielding a futuristic stylus had me feeling like Marty McFly wearing La Forge’s glasses and holding Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber. No doubt being surrounded at ISTE by such genius innovators from zSpace also had me searching high and low for Dr. Emmett Brown’s Flux Capacitor as Obi-Wan reminded me in the distance to “Use the force.”
I used the zSpace force, all right, and I can honestly say it is potent, wondrous, and exciting. However, I’m still not sure I can completely express it. Not just yet. But assuming the old adage, “Seeing is believing,” is correct, let’s take a look.

An Introduction to “Immersive Exploration”

Here’s a quick video with no spoken words that should pique your interest quite a bit while introducing you to what zSpace calls “Immersive Exploration.”

Virtual Demonstrations of the zSpace System

After viewing the following virtual demonstrations of this amazing marriage between futuristic hardware and innovative software known as the zSpace System, be sure to click here and explore the actual specifications.

The Experts Speak

During my tour of educational technology at the ISTE conference, I was privileged to speak with two associates from zSpace, Elizabeth Lytle and David Chavez, and both guided me effortlessly through a trial of the zSpace System while sharing their collective enthusiasm and faith in this revolutionary product. Would you believe me if I told you I lifted a beating, three-dimensional, virtual heart off a flat screen and held it just inches from my eyes? And that’s not all. With the click of the stylus button, I extracted layers of the virtual heart to reveal the working valves. Yep! Totally amazing. Of course, I could go on and on about my experiment with an actual x-ray CT image of a patient with multiple brain tumors or my physics and mathematical experiments in Newton’s Park or…Well, let’s just listen to the experts.

The Real Experts (The Students) Speak

Still not convinced of zSpace’s educational awesomeness? Just check out the following videos that covers the partnership between zSpace and the Los Altos School District. Click here for an article from NBC Bay Area’s Jessica Aguirre and Barb Kunz.

Whether I am contemplating the instructional possibilities of zSpace’s zView or envisioning the creative potential of students who develop their own lessons to be used on the zSpace System, I am befuddled. But, thankfully, David Chavez, the Chief Technology Officer at zSpace, has it covered. He states that fundamentally, we are all wired up to deal with life in a spatial environment…until we get to a computer or a flat screen. Mr. Chavez also adds that besides inviting and encouraging students to interact with the zSpace System in a multi-dimensional setting by using their spatial skills, these highly engaging experiments in “Immersive Exploration” take place in a safe environment.
Even though I’m still a bit speechless after my introduction to zSpace, one thing is for sure: if “seeing is believing,” then “experiencing is knowing.”
So what do I know? That zSpace…is…awesome.
(A special thanks to Greg O’Dell for introducing me to zSpace.)

John Hardison

John Hardison is an interactive facilitator of learning and blended learning specialist at East Hall High School (Studio 113 & EPiCC).

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