Imagine snorkelling and floating in the ocean with whales ... right in the middle of the library. The new virtual reality room on the third floor of the Taylor Family Digital Library (TFDL) at the University of Calgary makes that possible. While the technology certainly has entertainment value, its applications for teaching, learning and research seem endless.
Libraries and Cultural Resources (LCR) has made the Virtual Reality Studio available for booking by faculty and graduate students. As well, a One Button Studio — for creating and recording video content at the push of a button — is available to all students, faculty and staff.
“Virtual reality has applications across many disciplines,” explains Susan Powelson, associate university librarian for Technology, Discovery and Digital Services with LCR. “Virtual reality enables reconstruction of historical environments, it has the potential to change the way buildings are designed and it can facilitate surgical training.”
The TFDL’s Virtual Reality Studio is customized for virtual reality headsets. Handheld controllers are used to navigate and manipulate objects as well as communicate and experience immersive audio-visual environments.
The One Button Studio is a space streamlined for creating high-quality video content, allowing individuals even with no technical background to create and save videos to a USB memory stick at the push of a button. A retro-reflective projection screen serves as a green screen during recording. This allows for the addition of any background during post-production.
Students and scholars can use the studio to practise presentations and language skills and create video content such as instructional videos. In early February, LCR is offering introductory orientation sessions for using the One Button and Virtual Reality Studios.