Incline Village Library gets immersive with VR headsets
Thanks to funding from the Nevada State Legislature and the Rotary Club of Tahoe-Incline, the Incline Village Library is adding virtual reality systems that users can access as an alternative to books while visiting the library.
Although the easy connection to the virtual reality headsets is rooted around entertainment and gaming, which may make some parents cringe at the idea of their kids getting even more video game time, branch manager John Crockett says the additional possibilities for education are incredible.
“We hope to reinforce what the teachers are teaching in school,” says Crockett. “If they’re teaching about the Roman ruins, kids can walk around the same ruins they are learning about.
“Another program that is funded gives us hundreds of VR models to choose from,” added Crockett. “You can see something like a shark, the nervous system, the digestive system and literally go inside the shark and look out the jaws and look back down the skeleton to see the vertebrae. It’s amazing.”
While Crockett and the library would like to get more involved with the schools, the Boys and Girls Club and other learning organizations, they have yet to meet with everyone to discuss the possibilities.
“We did talk with a local art teacher and showed them Google Tilt Brush, which is a sculpting, drawing and painting program that allows you to create in three-dimension,” Crockett explained. “This program would allow you and another person to work on the same sculpture at the same time and whatever was created can be printed out on the 3-D printer.”
The library first introduced the VR systems at the Bi-state Evacuation Drill and Safety Fair earlier this year. That event allowed them to demonstrate some of the capabilities of the headsets, which attendees had a great time getting their first experience.
For Crockett, his first experience with the virtual reality system was with the International Space Station.
“I was able to float above the earth in space, look around and see a space shuttle docked and the parts of the space station, then look down and see the eastern seaboard.”
This type of immersive learning is not the only thing the systems are capable of doing. To bring the VR world a little closer to home in Tahoe, Crockett envisions the idea of using Google Earth VR combined with a recording of a 360 degree camera that would allow for a user to be transported to a bike or walking trail in the basin and determine if it was the right trail for them.
While Crockett said he has not yet tested this idea, he sees it as a way to get educated on wildfires.
“Through CalFire you can get coordinates and information about a specific fire, then export that into Google Earth VR to give you an idea of the scope of the fire.”
The library plans to have open studio time for people to try all the possibilities as well as structured programs. In addition to the schools, the library also will look to partner with other organizations, such as its neighbor, the senior center.
“It’s not just for the kids. As an example, for people that may have difficulty traveling, they can take trips to places like the Grand Canyon,” said Crockett. “There’s one program where you’re riding in a gondola in a canal in Venice with a professor of history and he’s pointing out a famous site and you’re getting information directly from a professor.”
If you have not had the experience of being in a virtual world and are concerned about the effects it may have, don’t worry. While it’s not recommended for people who experience motion sickness or have vertigo, you can be eased into it. Crockett adds that if anyone starts to get uncomfortable, they’re right there to help.
And parents don’t worry about your child spending hours on end inside a 3-D video game. The library will have time restrictions in place to help rotate people through so that everyone has the chance to get immersed in this new technology.
The Incline Village Library is located at 845 Alder Ave., in Incline Village. For information call 775-832-4130.