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Report – VR 101: Making Virtual a Reality

Posted on: Wednesday 06 July 2016 1:42pm by Jessica Thornsby

Gaming may be the first thing that springs to mind when you think about virtual reality (VR), but it also has the potential to revolutionise many other areas. The panel explored the way VR is currently being used in children’s media, and its massive potential when it comes to enhancing storytelling, learning and play

Takeaways

  • Virtual reality has massive potential for enhancing the way children learn. It’s not just about computer games
  • VR and augmented reality (AR) offer a way of bringing subjects to life, to an extent never seen before
  • Children who typically weren’t interested in a subject suddenly became much more engaged once VR was added to the mix

Detail

VR is big news, and the excitement surrounding this topic was easy to see at the Children’s Media Conference today, as this session proved to be hugely popular with attendees.

The session began with a presentation by Changemaker Chloe Meineck. Chloe is a social designer, inventor and entrepreneur, whose work includes the ‘Music Memory Box’, which was a finalist in the UK’s National Dementia Care awards, and ‘Trove’, a product aimed at helping children in care and adopted children. Children can fill their ‘Trove’ box with objects that are important to them, and record sound clips explaining the story behind each item. Chloe summed up the project by saying: “It’s really important for children in care to feel like their objects are precious.”

28184175826_6020edc818_zDelegates then heard from a range of industry leaders around the subject of virtual reality, and its implications for changing the face of education. Dr Dave Raynard, a self-confessed VR pioneer who left his role earlier this year to become a dedicated Virtual Reality Developer, showed the audience a video of his mother’s reaction to swimming with virtual sharks in his VR experience ‘The Deep’.

Additionally, Dave spoke about VR’s social potential, something that CEO and co-founder of Curiscope, Ed Barton, also discussed. He said that although VR does have the potential to be isolating, augmented reality (AR) combined with VR has the potential to “bring magic into the real world.” Ed also introduced delegates to a T-shirt that perfectly summed up the educational potential of VR and AR: when viewed through a mobile or tablet, the T-shirt reveals its wearers anatomy – perfect for bringing biology classes to life!

Juliet Tzabar, Managing Director of Plug-in Media, introduced us to another VR project: ‘Angie’s Party’. This is an animated VR sitcom that allows the player to switch between characters at key points in the story, illustrating VR’s potential to enhance traditional media.

Virtual reality’s potential to educate was a recurring theme. Dan Tucker, Head of Research at BBC Learning, talked about a history VR piece he’d worked on, which helped educate players about the Easter Rising of 1916. “I used to be a VR sceptic, but now I’m hooked!” he said.

But what about the potential health implications of VR? Head of Research at digital entertainment specialists Dubit, Peter Robinson, announced that they were about to start a project in collaboration with academia and several children’s hospitals, to understand the health implications associated with VR.

With several consumer VR products already available and more set to hit the market later this year, virtual reality is big news, with many industry experts predicting that 2016 could be the watershed moment when VR becomes mainstream. Regardless of what happens with VR in 2016, one thing is certain: this is an exciting topic that’s definitely worth keeping an eye on!

Jessica Thornsby

About the author

Jessica Thornsby

Can Studios, Technical Writer

Jessica Thornsby studied Creative Writing at the University of Bolton. She has a background in technical writing and reporting, music journalism, and digital marketing. She is the co-author of O’Reilly Media’s iWork: The Missing Manual. She works as a technical writer at Can Studios, an award-winning team of developers, designers… Read more

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