Sunday, May 15, 2016

Pop Up Thinglab 1: VR Travel Agency - Croydon Central Library Reception

Pop Up Thinglab 1: VR Travel Agency - Croydon Library Reception
This was the first first outing for the Pop Up Thinglab and the Virtual Reality Travel Agency - exploring new technology and new education techniques.

Originally planned as an introduction to virtual reality for Carillion CCS Libraries development managers but rather than hold this as a standard "back-room meeting" I decided to leap straight in and experiment with this as the first Pop Up Thinglab - in the spirit of the project - out in the public and open. 

We held this between 3.30 and 5pm in the reception of Croydon Central Library so that it was accessible for anyone passing or using the library. We had around 30 people come and give it a go, there was no entry level criteria, selection or grading, we had primary school children, secondary school children, parents and adults all at the same time - it was very busy and great fun.

From the "Virtual Reality Trips" available people visited The Tomb of Tutankhamun, The Titans of SpaceJurassic World, A History Of Cuban Dance, went on stage with the Cirque Du Soleil, and U2, attended Emergency Room Medical Training played Smash Hit VR, rode the Dive City Rollercoaster and the Crazy Swing.

The most useful trip and popular trip was the Felix & Paul Studios Introduction To Virtual Reality - this gave "visitors" a sample of several of their virtual reality "destinations": space, Jurrasic World Dinosaurs, Elephants in the wild, the nomadic world of Sea Gypsies, Herders and the Massai, a Lebron James basketball training session and every was amazed by the "in your face" fire display from the Cirque Du Soleil - people kept talking about this and wanted to see it again and again.

“A library is one of the few places, in a town or even a large village, where you can go in and immerse yourself in that world" ~ Stephen Fry 

Virtual reality has an important role in the development of education and public libraries - where once you might read about, look at photos and watch a film about something - now you can experience it in first person. Where once you might visit a library to read a book about Tutankhamun - now you can visit the Tomb of Tutankhamun in your library by booking out a VR headset! 

Public libraries have introduced and provided shared general public access to books, music films, computers and the Internet. Today there is an explosion of important socially significant emerging new technologies to which public libraries can introduce and provide shared general public access - technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, 3D printing, 360 imagery, the Internet of Things, robots and artificial intelligence.

“We need to understand libraries as places of education and nourishment for everyone ...  they save lives.” ~ Stephen Fry 

Public libraries welcome everyone - they have no minimal entry level requirements. Public libraries have always played a vital role in general public access to education, learning and social equality and rather than closing them we need to invest, develop and expand our public libraries for the common good.

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