Camas Library seeking volunteers for virtual reality program

Oculus Rift and Go headsets available for public try-out sessions at Camas Library

CAMAS — Filmmaker Chris Milk, called virtual reality, (VR), the “ultimate empathy machine” in his now famous 2015 Ted Talk.

In the teen room of the Camas Public Library, that statement is coming alive in a new way through the library’s educational VR program.

Cliff Anderson is seen here watching the Apollo 11 launch and moon landing through a virtual reality headset at the Camas Public Library. Photo by Jacob Granneman
Cliff Anderson is seen here watching the Apollo 11 launch and moon landing through a virtual reality headset at the Camas Public Library. Photo by Jacob Granneman

“The moment you put on this headset, your brain really, truly feels that you are in this area,” said Danielle Reynolds the technology and collections manager for Camas Public Library. “Virtual reality puts yourself into this ‘reality’ faster than any other medium.”

This week, Camas Public Library opened sign-ups for the public to come and experience VR through their three new headsets.

“It was mind boggling,” said Sandy Anderson, an area resident who used the Oculus Rift at the library. “I’ve always been interested in virtual reality and how it works, and what it’s all about. It’s very engrossing.”

Sandy Anderson uses the Oculus Go, portable virtual reality headset, at the Camas Public Library. The VR headsets are part of a grant from the Washington State Library on VR and education. Photo by Jacob Granneman
Sandy Anderson uses the Oculus Go, portable virtual reality headset, at the Camas Public Library. The VR headsets are part of a grant from the Washington State Library on VR and education. Photo by Jacob Granneman

 

Cliff Anderson uses the Oculus Rift to play a introductory game, made to help beginners understand how to navigate in a virtual reality. Photo by Jacob Granneman
Cliff Anderson uses the Oculus Rift to play a introductory game, made to help beginners understand how to navigate in a virtual reality. Photo by Jacob Granneman

Sandy’s husband, Cliff Anderson, also tried the simulation. His was the history of the Apollo missions, which Cliff actually remembers.

 

“You lift off, and the screen shakes. It would be cool if the chair did too,” Cliff said laughing. “I think this whole thing is just fascinating. Sandy and I have talked about traveling, but can we afford it? Maybe in the future we’ll be able to go some place with this and see it.”

Thanks to a grant from the Washington State Library, (WSL), through a partnership with VR tech-giant, Oculus, the library was able to acquire one Oculus Rift headset, and two Oculus Go headsets.

WSL is currently conducting a joint research project with the state eye school researchers to look into educational uses for VR.

At Camas, there are currently 15 VR experiences  and games available for the Oculus Rift and 12 for the Oculus Go. All of these are educational experiences, with several being animated films.

Staff at the Camas Public Library, help members of the public use virtual reality headsets to learn about a variety of topics, from Mt. Everest to the human body. Photo by Jacob Granneman
Staff at the Camas Public Library, help members of the public use virtual reality headsets to learn about a variety of topics, from Mt. Everest to the human body. Photo by Jacob Granneman

“One of our goals is to bring more technology to Camas,” Reynolds said. “By experiencing this grant we can see what our interest is like for it. Then, once the grant passes, if that’s the case, then maybe we can look at purchasing them for ourselves, or experiencing further technology here.”

Sign-ups are still available on the library’s portal. Volunteers are also needed to help as coaches for the program.

These will be people who are passionate about VR and interested in helping others experience VR as well. They will assist with taking on and off headsets, as well as making sure users are safe in tru reality while using the devices, the library said.

Sign-up slots are for 30 minutes, with one allowed per person, per day. Participants must be 13-years-old or older, and sign a waiver.

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About The Author

Jacob Granneman is a filmmaker and writer from Clark County. He is a recent graduate of Washington State University’s Edward R. Murrow College, where he studied media production. He has produced documentary stories all over the Pacific Northwest and in Argentina. His passions range from loving people, to cinematography, to going on adventures in the most beautiful place on earth, i.e. his backyard. He lives with his wife in Vancouver, WA.

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