What is Virtual Reality?

Virtual reality (VR) refers to computer-generated environments that simulate the physical presence of people and/or objects and realistic sensory experiences. At a basic level, this technology takes the form of 3D images that users interact with and manipulate via mouse and keyboard. More sophisticated applications of virtual reality allow users to more authentically feel the objects in these displays through gesture-based and haptic devices, which provide tactile information through force feedback. While enabling people to explore new environments has compelling implications for learning, to date, virtual reality has been most prominently used for military training. Thanks to advents in graphics hardware, CAD software, and 3D displays, virtual reality Is becoming more mainstream, especially in the realm of video games. Oculus VR, a company focused on designing virtual reality products, is developing the heavily-anticipated Oculus Rift, a head-mounted display for gameplay to make the game environments and actions more lifelike. As both games and natural user interfaces are finding applications in classrooms, the addition of virtual reality can potentially make learning simulations more authentic for students.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to academic and research libraries?

  • Gamification. Libraries can create and offer enjoyable programs to further engage patrons in areas such as the development of information literacy skills and collection awareness. - SueH SueH Oct 29, 2016 - Laurents.Sesink Laurents.Sesink Nov 12, 2016
  • Virtual library tours. Libraries can offer both on & off campus patrons a tour of a library using virtual reality, without the patron being physically present within the library. - SueH SueH Oct 29, 2016
  • Instruction. Offering introductory sessions to patrons to provide awareness to this fast growing technology. - SueH SueH Oct 29, 2016
  • Lending. Include virtual reality headsets (such as GearVR & Google Cardboard kits) within library collections to provide access to patrons. - SueH SueH Oct 29, 2016
  • We already offer our community access to virtual reality technology in our digital scholarship center where we offer the Oculus Rift hardward and software. This is mostly used by students and faculty who simply want to learn more about VR headset technology and how it works, what it can do, etc. But it can also be used in digital scholarship projects where the researcher has developed a project that transmits data that takes advantage of a 3D display or which could be manipulated by someone using the data. These are referred to as "interactive media experiences". Here is more on this: - bells bells Nov 9, 2016
    http://sites.temple.edu/tudsc/2015/06/18/im_ep1/The other area in which this could be relevant to academic and research libraries, in addition to what is mentioned above, is library learning and instruction - not just to introduce community members to the technology - but to actually integrate it into learning how to conduct research. We know that authentic and problem based learning are better ways to engage students as active learners. Too often library instruction is simply hands on activity on computers. What if we could give students more realistic problem scenarios that play out in VR worlds, where they would need to find information to solve a problem - and where they could do their research to find information and then implement those solutions in a virtual reality space. I think that is certainly what is of most interest to higher education when it comes to VR. How to give students hand-on experience in a virtual space when the real thing can't be made available.- bells bells Nov 9, 2016

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Based on what I offered above I would add the theme of using VR for digital scholarship and also as a resource that libraries can introduce to students and faculty - as a research tool - through the digital scholarship center or library maker space.- bells bells Nov 9, 2016
  • add your response here

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on academic and research libraries?

  • Space or location requirements. Patrons may expect libraries to offer a learning space (either in or outdoors), such as a games lab, to enable them to explore the technology. - SueH SueH Oct 29, 2016 - Laurents.Sesink Laurents.Sesink Nov 12, 2016
  • Collection development. Expectations from patrons in regards to the loan of virtual reality resources / content from library collections. - SueH SueH Oct 29, 2016
  • Knowledge. The expectation from patrons that library staff understand and know how to use various virtual reality technologies. - SueH SueH Oct 29, 2016
  • Affording students and scholars new opportunities to manipulate and present data for an interactive media experience. Let's imagine a scholar has analyzed the texts of 19th century English mystery novel writers and has used GIS to map where the crimes in the novels take place. Now let's imagine that another researcher could take a virtual tour of those locations and could learn more about how they were used in the novels. As is often the case, the library may be the only unit on campus that has the ability to make VR technology to all students and faculty who may otherwise not have access to it in their home department (e.g., a media studies major who can't access VR in the engineering school's technology lab).- bells bells Nov 9, 2016

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

Please share information about related projects in our Horizon Project sharing form.