When I was a kid, I believed virtual reality would be a part of the future that I would get to experience. Did I realize it would be something I could experience in my 20s? Not at all. The unbelievable advancement of technology, thanks to things like Moore’s law, has given us accessibility and capabilities beyond our imagination just a few years ago. I had heard about virtual reality becoming a real “thing” just a few years ago, with the rise of Oculus Rift. However, I largely ignored most of the hype around the Rift because, well, a $400 dollar investment was not really in my budget. I have a feeling that is true for many students at USG.
Honestly, it broke my heart a little, seeing all the cool things the Rift could do (thanks to endless YouTube and Twitch videos), but realizing it was not really for me.
We had a tech “deep-dive” assignment in class this semester, with most of my cohort presenting on various online platforms for assessing, videos, or just making learning more interactive. However, I had one close friend present on VR. I knew he was doing this, but was really not as excited as I thought it would be, thinking the presentation would end with “this is the potential of the technology! Too bad it costs hundreds of dollars per set.”
I was pleasantly surprised when he brought in two VR sets he bought himself (around 30 dollars each), and had a slide later in his presentation referring us to the cardboard headsets that were only about 15 dollars each!
We had a chance to try them out at the end of the presentation, which only required a two-minute set-up consisting of snapping in an iTouch (iTouch! We now have a use for those old things) into the headset and making sure the app was loaded. I was expecting a laggy, not-so-immersive “prototype” of VR. If this thing was less than $50 dollars, it wasn’t even 1/8 of the price of the Rift–there was no way it could be a decent quality.
I was so wrong. I was happy I was wrong. Though our class centered around how this could be used educationally in grade level classrooms, the opportunities are limitless. Next week, I hope to do some extra research on how VR can enrich and increase the efficiency of day to day life as a student.