Virtual Immersion

Friday, November 18, 2016 - 11:45pm

A student using Google Cardboard

People react differently to full immersion in virtual reality versus a standard interaction between themselves and a tv screen, or a piece of paper. Since the beginning of my research assistant position at the WRC, I have seen the reaction multiple times. Whether it be my coworkers experiencing the HTC vive for the first time, or our interactions we had during the Open Streets event where strangers would come by and try our devices. The differences in how people respond are always very similar, but also very different at the same time. When you are experiencing a technology for the first time, there is nothing that can really prepare you for how the interface will work or how to navigate through the device. The only constant was that every time there was confusion and user error in a different way.

Learning a new interface while fully immersed always provided a unique challenge for each participant that attempted to learn the basics. Their reactions would always change because there was no immediate example to follow and no past experiences that were anywhere close to this new experience. This makes virtual reality and technologies like Google Cardboard and Google Glass very unique and groundbreaking. Even if you don’t see yourself using the technology in the near future, there are many new experiences you get from using the device just once, and learning how to adapt in a new world.

This makes learning about VR very important, and the WRC has, so far, let me experience and contrast the things I have seen. Everything I have taken away has followed the same pattern so far. That pattern is every experience has been a completely different one. This provides an understand into how difficult it will be to standardize education through these technologies. However, this also lets many students that learn through independent study, trial and error, or just explorative ways get more engaged possibly do better than in a standard classroom  environment.

This entry is written by Xander Westgaard.