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.
“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’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.
“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.