VR Headset Provides Immersive Academic Expertise

The Harold B. Lee Library allows faculty and students to get that experience working with an HTC Vive headset that the library purchased last year. Students and faculty may use the VR headset -- situated on the second floor of the library in the Science and Engineering Help Desk -- to boost their overall BYU academic experience.

"Not only could you walk through the streets of Manhattan, but you can do it while being the size of King Kong," stated HBLL science reference expert Jed Johnston.

Professors and students are already using the VR software in several ways to intensify and increase their academic learning experience.

"We have got a virtual version of Jerusalem a religion professor and a computer science professor are working in conjunction with the Church Motion Picture Studio. At this time, it's only the city of Jerusalem in the time of Christ, but they will gradually develop different places mentioned in the New Testament," Johnston said.

Anatomy students are also using the VR headset to study the human body. An app named Organon enables students to pull apart a virtual human body and point to the various organs to learn their titles and more info about them.

A mechanical engineering student who made a car could climb within a virtual version of the automobile. Throughout the VR headset, they would have the ability to check at the dashboard and the controls to check out their layouts before actually building it.

Animation students interested in game development are profiting from analysing several distinct kinds of mechanics for video games inside the headset.

"Even for only understanding the mechanisms of games, they need to have the ability to experience it since there is no greater experience besides being inside of it," research assistant Scott Faress stated.

"There is something surreal about being able to visit nearly any place in the world at just the touch of a finger and experience it immersively. It is unreal," Faress stated.

The library also has its projects in progress using VR technology. By way of instance, the HBLL is attempting to scan the human body so medical schools which don't have access to cadavers -- particularly in developing countries -- can explore the human body in the classroom.

"Dr Wisco, a former professor of human anatomy, told us that 3D models of systems and organs would be quite helpful because students studying from images often only recognize body parts from particular viewpoints, but the moment a liver or another organ becomes rotated, the pupils often no longer understand what they are looking at," Johnston said.

The library also expects to use VR to plan future structure. Administrators can simulate construction virtually before spending hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Furthermore, VR could create virtual tours of the library and virtual versions of the library's displays to make them more interactive.

"Traditionally we spend thousands of dollars placing amazing exhibits together, and then after some time, they are taken down, and you can not experience them again," Johnston said. "But now that we have virtual reality, we are working with the displays manager/designer to preserve the experience even following a display comes down."

Although BYU faculty and students can book the VR headgear online or in the Help Desk, many people on campus do not know it is available from the library, and if they do, they do not understand how to use it.

"Now we only need to push increased awareness of it. This way, people know the resources are accessible," Faress stated.

Physiological sciences librarian Meg Frost is conducting a study to learn how the VR technology has been used at the library and how students want to use it.

"I think it would be great if we could work more closely with particular faculty or with specific courses to support assignments associated with virtual reality. I believe that would be fun," Frost said.

BYU mechanical engineering graduate Jeffery Smith made it possible for the VR technology to maintain the library. During his junior year at BYU, Lockheed Martin entered into a partnership with Smith to finance his research on VR's software in industrial training procedures.

Smith pictured how VR technology could be helpful for the library and might bring BYU together in an interdisciplinary manner, and he submitted the proposal for the library to buy the headset.

"It is like to be the future of immersive collaborative learning. Rather than learning audibly from a lecture and a person just telling you, or learning from a textbook and reading, it is a comprehensive sensory experience," Smith said.

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