March Newsletter

March Newsletter

VR Lecture by Stéphan Faudeux on Campus A very special event is happening on campus this month. The French Film Festival will be featuring a lecture by Stéphan Faudeux, titled: Virtual Reality and Cinema: Complementary or Competitors? The talk happens March 28th, 10 am to 11:30 am and will “cover the progress of virtual reality in various areas, with a pragmatic, practical and fun approach.” For more information check out the French Film Festival site.   Two Events Coming in April: VR Student Research Project Pizza & Pedagogy and Organon VR Anatomy Demo
  1. Alyssa Ross and Dr. Kristin Bezio will discuss using the HTC Vive in the classroom and research lab for our April Pizza & Pedagogy lunch – free pizza! Register here
  2. We will be hosting a demo of the Organon VR Anatomy app for the HTC Vive on April 11th from 1 to 4pm. This app will change the way you think about the human body (I’m not exaggerating). http://www.3dorganon.com/site/
  Augmented Reality: Apple’s Next Big Thing?
[Tim] Cook (Apple’s CEO) has likened AR’s game-changing potential to that of the smartphone. At some point, he said last year, we will all “have AR experiences every day, almost like eating three meals a day. It will become that much a part of you.”
Mark Gurman at Bloomberg gets some new, interesting details on Apple’s AR efforts. However, it’s still uncertain, how exactly Apple is going to define “AR”. Some argue Pokemon on a large slab of glass (i.e. an iPhone) is AR, others believe, in order to be a new platform, glasses/new hardware have to be involved. I think the Google Glasses are a lesson that not everyone is keen on wearing and/or being seen by technology glasses. I tend to think Apple’s strategy in the near term will be focused on extending the AR functionality in the iPhone. From an ed tech stand point, that would be great due to the popularity of iPhones on campus.   Speaking of AR apps for the iPhone Emory Craig argues that new AR apps from Shazam, Blippar, and others have the “potential to pull augmented reality out of gaming and into our everyday lives.” The apps certainly look like a lot of fun. Emory argues the critical missing piece is having to hold up a heavy phone to enjoy the experience. He clearly believes glasses are the future.   A Shift from Looking to Interacting This article articulates exactly where I think we are in terms of VR education technology. Looking in 360 is great but not revolutionary, collectively interacting in virtual or augmented worlds is. Paul at W&L is doing some great things with VR and has great vision for how success will be defined in the future.
Paul Low, who taught undergraduate geology and environmental sciences and is now a research associate at Washington and Lee University, is among a small group of profs-turned-technologists who are experimenting with virtual reality’s applications in higher education. Early VR programs were about showing students places, say the Louvre or ancient Rome, in low-cost headsets like the Google Cardboard viewer. But these latest iterations go further, creating entire environments—from the subatomic level to the solar system—that students can manipulate. Low and his colleagues at other campuses are trying to shepherd VR educational content from being something “that students look at” to something they can interact with. … Low is excited about creating virtual environments where students and faculty can inhabit the same space and interact, like in the earthquake study. That experience is easier for learning designers to create, he says, because they don’t have to program all of the sequences of events that could potentially happen during a solo activity. Instead, the instructor handles the interactive components on the spot.
  Would you watch a virtual-reality Casablanca?  If you are planning on attending Stéphan’s lecture next week, I highly recommend this article from MIT as a primer.
VR will never become the new cinema. Instead, it will be a different thing. But what is that thing? And will audiences trained in passive linear narrative—where scene follows scene like beads on a string, and the string always pulls us forward—appreciate what the thing might be? Or will we only recognize it when the new medium has reached a certain maturity, the way audiences in 1903 sat up at The Great Train Robbery and recognized that, finally, here was a movie?