I’m Michelle Callaghan, a first-year graduate student at Villanova University. This is our new column, “‘Cat in the Stacks.” I’m the ‘cat. Falvey Memorial Library is the stacks. I’ll be posting about living that scholarly life, from research to study habits to embracing your inner-geek, and how the library community might aid you in all of it.
Today at 2:00, Villanova’s CAVE is officially open. In honor of opening day, this week’s blog post will be all about immersive virtual reality—for those of us who might not even know where to begin thinking about the creative and academic applications of virtual environments.
Disclaimer: I’m not an expert. I’m a virtual reality noob. I’m writing this with no in-depth technical expertise—just a whole lot of geeky excitement. But I do play (and, by way of literary theory, study) video games, and my personal interest in virtual reality’s possible applications is heavily biased towards, well, play. And by “play” I don’t mean to imply the installment is only for entertainment (nor do I think its entertainment and audio/visual/tactile immersion possibilities should be minimized, especially for the arts and humanities). I mean “play” as in stepping inside a world and getting your hands virtually dirty, like a kid in a sandbox.
But before we talk Earth science and data visualization, whet your VR palette with the incredibly cool Tilt Brush (aka “Microsoft Paint for the Year 2020”).
Depending on your hobbies, you might have already heard about the VR movement in video games a la Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus. These are headset-based immersive mechanisms, while the CAVE is quite literally a virtually immersive walk-in cave. Still, if you want to explore discussion of virtually reality without scholarly pressure, the gaming community is a good place to start.
If you feel like you’re ready to brave the technical background and scholarly applications of virtual reality, The Verge posted a feature video on The Virtual Reality CAVE, featuring UC Davis’s setup, KeckCAVES. A little digging into UC Davis’s ongoing projects, which include applications in Earth science, data visualization, and responsive media, is a fun way to get your feet wet!
Based on a little internet reading, the possibilities of virtual reality in scholarly, scientific and creative application are innumerable—but are not all fully realized, or even drafted. And that’s the cool part: if this is the forefront of a new wave, this is your chance to brainstorm, too.
How could you imagine immersive virtual reality used in your field of study?