Friday, September 2, 2016

Pop Up Thinglab 15: A World Of Pure Imagination

 Welcome to Virtual Reality

Pop Up Thinglab 15 was an open and public virtual reality workshop for anyone held in centre of Hounslow Treaty public Library on a rolling program for people to come and go as they pleased over three hours.

"Come with me and you'll be In a world of pure imagination"

We started in Little Top - a wonderland for children's education inside Hounslow public library. Little Top is an artistic interpretation of the circus "big top" for children - its an imaginative colourful playful space that stimulates your senses and mind ... "a world of pure imagination". Little Top is a lot bigger on the inside .. it stimulates your senses to become as big as your imagination ... Little Top is like the TARDIS and is excellent compliment to the virtual reality travel agency.

Our first virtual reality trippers were a group of teenage volunteers helping with The Big Friendly Read who had grown up with the Little Top and had very fond memories of time spent in there as children being introduced to books, activities and the world of imagination. The Little Top had such a profound affect that here they were as teenagers introducing children to books and the world of imagination. 

Little Top ... a legacy of imagination

People respond differently to virtual reality ... there is a continuum from those who are serious and "matter of fact" about it through to those who get very excited and lose themselves in it. The Little Top alumnae leaped enthusiastically into virtual reality had a wonderful time and lost themselves - there is no doubt that Little Top has a legacy of imagination.

We set up the virtual reality workshop in the centre of Hounslow library and talked about tech, made VR viewers made VR media and went on virtual reality trips. One elderly library user turned around several times from using a computer to remind us that we were in a library and to keep quiet but It was a busy day in the library with toddlers' storytime, The Big Friendly Readknitting, Lego education taster sessions, the virtual reality travel agency and all the other activities that go on in a modern public library these days.

We showed people how to make Google Cardboard virtual reality viewers and how to use their phones with them to easily access the thousands of 360\VR videos on Youtube. The accessibility of Google Cardboard VR really brings VR home when people learn how quick cheap and and easy it is make a viewer and to access VR on their own phones with Youtube #360 videos. It was a real pleasure when some children came along and told me how they had been using Google cardboard VR at home after learning about this in Thinglab 9 

The best way to understand reality and virtual reality is to be part of it

The best way to understand reality and virtual reality is to be part of it so we set about making some virtual reality images and videos with ourselves. The VR selfie is the strangest selfie yet - seeing ourselves in-situ in virtual reality is something new and really messes with our senses. One of our visitors captured the feeling of the VR selfie by describing it as like "an out of body experience".

Google Cardboard and the box camera

We talked about the past present and future tech. One of the visitors captured the present state of virtual reality by comparing it to photography in the 19th century and comparing Google Cardboard and the box camera ... which was also often made of cardboard. We are at the very beginning of the development of virtual reality and If virtual reality today is like photography in the 19th century then what will virtual reality be like in the future? We spoke about the state of the art in virtual reality and the Lytro Immerge "volumetric" light field virtual reality camera with its hundreds of cameras and terabytes of storage that renders virtual reality with 6 degrees of freedom and lets you look closer at a scene. We spoke about how exponential changes in technology could eventually shrink all this down to some sort of mobile\wearable system - how the future of mobile is virtual reality and when you can realistically capture and re-live moments from different perspectives. We spoke about how virtual reality can help you see and hopefully understand the world from different perspectives and how - how virtual reality can develop empathy and about how the United Nations is using Virtual reality to raise awareness about vulnerable communities.  

For more images and videos of Pop Up Thinglab 15 visit:
Thinglab 15 videos (Youtube playlist)
Thinglab 15 images (Flickr album)

To find out more about inspireNshare visit

To find out more about inspireNshare Thinglab visit

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