The second annual VR/AR Meetup was Friday, Oct. 13, where professors and researchers at the University of Nevada, Reno, got together to present what they have been working on in the world of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). The presentations ranged from overcoming the limitations of the emerging technology to helping disabled people get to experience life outside of their disabilities. Following the presentation, the @One held a soft opening for the new @Reality work space that has been under construction for several months. The space will allow university students and faculty to try our VR and AR for themselves.
About 40 people attended the event where presenters came from every department of the university. The psychology department is studying what effects VR has on students that are experiencing anxiety, stress and/or depression. The journalism department is taking people to hard to reach or limited access places around the world with 3D virtual tours, and the engineering department is trying to perfect VR technology to make it more engaging, easy to use and more accessible by cutting down on motion sickness that so often plagues users of VR.
The @Reality work space will be available for students to use Oct. 16 and will be available for students to reserve space in starting Oct. 23. There are four stations to use which include two Oculus Rift headsets and two HTC Vives. According to Mark Gandolfo, the director of the @One, there will be several AR headsets coming in the weeks to come.
“It’s really the only space on campus where anyone can come in and have this kind of experience,” Gandolfo said when asked about the space. “What’s really important about university libraries is that all of our stuff is turf free. It’s not departmentally based. This is for all students and all faculty.”
During the soft opening, faculty and students got to experience some of the equipment first hand, and play racing simulators, or take virtual tours of Nevada with TravelNevada, part of the Nevada Commission on Tourism, who attended the event.
The @One received a $100,000 internal grant from university libraries in order to build @Reality. The grant was meant to refresh and update the library with contemporary technological components.
Right now the space is not yet fully complete, and more components will be added and evolve as it gets more use.
Joey Lovato can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on twitter @NevadaSagebrush.