Sunday, May 22, 2016

Pop UP Thinglab 2: VR Travel Agency - Staff Development At Croydon Central Library

Librarians Use Virtual Reality
Pop Up Thinglab 2 was was a staff development event held in the Children's Library at Croydon Central library. This was a real pleasure - children's spaces are designed to stimulate the imagination - they are colourful, playful and fun - they remind me of Google's "offices".  Why is it that once we "grow up" our work, learning and living spaces become so "corporate" and uninspiring.

We spoke about the history of libraries bringing new technologies to the general public as new ways to access and experience information. Libraries have made computers, the Internet, music and video available and accessible to the general public but its been a long time since anything new happened and these technologies have become widely pervasive in society and most people carry a computer around in their pocket these days. The current period is the most exciting I have known - there are so many exciting new technologies with great potential emerging - 3D printing, 360 imagery, the Internet of Things, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, augmented reality and for this Pop Up Thing Lab we focused on Virtual reality.

We all had HOHO (Hands On Heads On) with virtual reality and passed around Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR headsets. From the "Virtual Reality Trips" available we visited Muse "Revolt"U2 "Song For Someone"Felix & Paul Studios Introduction To Virtual Reality The Tomb of Tutankhamun, Jurassic Worldthe Cirque Du Soleil and The Click Effect - following two renegade marine science researchers as they attempt to free-dive a hundred feet to capture the “click” communication of dolphins and sperm whales. 

In the 1980s I helped college libraries offer computers to their students and the 1990s I helped them offer the Internet - supporting libraries curate on-line resources for curriculum areas. Now, in 2016 I am talking about librarians researching and curating virtual reality for the general public - these are exciting times!

Virtual reality products are on a continuum from the very easy, cheap and very accessible entry level Google cardboard, through the mid range with the Samsung Gear VR (and other smartphone ecosystems coming in sometime soon) to the high end room based systems like Rift and Vive. We spoke about offering access to this continuum of virtual reality in libraries. Entry level Cardboard headsets could be borrowed for use with people's own smartphones in the library and for take home - using more robust cardboard headsets like the Mattel View-Master VR for take out. Further along the continuum mobile systems like the Samsung Gear VR (and when it arrives Google Daydream) and room based systems like Occulus Rift and HTC Vive could be offered for better quality and more immersive experience in the library.

I think the Virtual Reality "continuum" can become a big deal for libraries in the future - it offers such a new way of looking at and accessing information - why just read about and look at photos of Tutankhamun's tomb when you can visit it in virtual reality.

Visit your library and go places with virtual reality.

With emerging new technologies like 3D printing, 360 imagery, the Internet of Things, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, augmented reality and virtual reality libraries have an opportunity to transform into community experience centres for learning.

Visit your library to stimulate your senses and inspire your imagination.

1 comment:

  1. Traveling to the world's most historic sites via virtual reality is still not very common, but a rich interactive peek inside one of the UK's most exclusive structures proves that VR tours are definitely the future.

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