Monday, March 21, 2016

Virtual Reality - The future is now

2016 will finally be the year of virtual reality. With the announcement of the Playstation VR’s release date and price yesterday, we finally have the plans of all the three big VR players this year. Oculus VR which is owned by Facebook comes out this month for PC and will cost $599. HTC Vive which is also for the PC will cost $799 and will be available in April. Lastly, the PSVR will be out October 2016 for $399.

These are all primarily built for gaming, but it doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to see how it can expand education and allow individuals to experience things that they would have never had the chance.

For instance, one project that is coming out of the Virtual Reality space is called the Apollo 11 experience. What is Apollo 11 before we begin? Apollo 11 was part of the Apollo program and the first mission that landed humans on the Moon, Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, on July 20, 1969. According to Yahoo! News “The ‘Apollo 11 VR Experience’ will feature accurate digital models of the Saturn V rocket, Apollo Command Module and Lunar Lander, including the original real-time audio from the mission and interviews with the astronauts themselves.” [1]

Check out this trailer to see it for yourself

I, for one, can not wait to experience what it would be like to take a mission to the moon, and mess with all the instruments in the space shuttle, and be on the moon, even if it is virtually. It’s something that 99.99999% of the world will never be able to experience, and if we can experience it virtually, I think that’s pretty incredible.

While that is an example of software created for VR that allows for learning, another possible example is a virtual classroom. Sure, we can have that now with the Internet, but imagine putting on your Virtual Reality headset and actually walking around Manhattan College, walking through the quad. Now, you can sit down in your classroom, and actually look at your virtual classmates, and the teacher. Actually interact, and walk up to the board like you would in class. Stand in front and give a presentation. Imagine having an alumni reunion where people who would not be able to attend under normal circumstances can now meet up with people they haven’t seen in forever in Manhattan College’s virtual quad. 

The possibilities for VR are endless. This is only the beginning and the future looks very bright. To learn more about each of the different VR devices you can check out this website:

Melvin Lasky
Assistant Director of IT Infrastructure