Here’s a dose of 90’s nostalgia for you, readers. I recently watched an old episode of the sitcom Mad About You. Though it had been years since I watched its original airing, this particular episode, titled Virtual Reality, had always stuck out in my mind because of its forward-thinking novelty. In the episode, Paul and Jamie Buchman bicker over the prospect of investing in a cutting-edge technology: virtual reality. The program, which Paul continually argues is “not a video game” so as to legitimize it as an investment, allows the Buchmans to indulge in some fantasies, including a back rub from model Christie Brinkley for Paul and the ultimate wife fantasy for Jamie: her husband apologizing in a loop for an error in judgement.
Now, as far as I know, the virtual reality systems available for the average consumer today do not include the ability to have a conversation and interact with a real supermodel. However, VR and AR have progressed in leaps and bounds during the last decade, especially in terms of the visual landscape users have access to and their abilities to interact realistically and seamlessly.
If you’re confused about the differences between virtual reality and augmented reality, this blog is a great source of information. Basically, AR is when digital content is overlaid on the real-world. A great example of this is Pokemon Go; you can be playing in your living room and suddenly see a Pikachu (if you’re so lucky) pop up on your screen right in front of the couch. VR, on the other hand, completely recreates the world; you’re no longer in your living room, but in a totally artificial, computer-generated space. This is often accomplished with the aid of headsets and hand controllers. If you’ve walked by the Microsoft Store in Roosevelt Field on a weekend, you can tell by the line of customers waiting to try out their Windows Mixed Reality, how popular this type technology has become.
Virtual reality has the ability to transport us into space, deep below the sea, or to the highest mountain peaks. We can fight aliens, paint masterpieces, and so much more. Virtual reality also has the capability of making the learning experience more immersive. Similarly, the ability to walk in another person’s shoes or experience other realities also has the potential of teaching empathy and understanding. The possibilities, especially as programmers and engineers continue to improve this incredible technology, are endless.
At the Levittown Public Library, one of our primary goals is to make information accessible for our community, and this includes access to the latest technologies. Since the opening of our Innovation Station, we continue to keep our eyes out for the next piece of technology that we can acquire and share with our patrons. Beginning next month, adults and teens will have the opportunity to try our new HTC Vive. With the help of a headset, controllers, and motion sensors, we can be transported to incredible other worlds. On Tuesday, April 24th, Clive Young will present the program Star Trek: Beam Me Up! Following his discussion of Star Trek and its continuing cultural relevance, patrons can briefly participate in the virtual reality game “ADRIFT,” which is a survival/adventure game set in space. On Wednesday, April 4th, teens will be able to take turns trying different VR games with our system. Both programs require pre-registration. Please consult our newsletter for all details and contact the appropriate departments to register.
We hope to see you there!