Over the summer, I participated in the Realities 360 conference. This was a hands-on conference looking at how developing augmented (AR) and virtual realities (VR) can impact learning. Most of the participants were from a commercial rather than academic backgrounds, which is always makes for an interesting change of perspective. Here is a short clip of Maxwell Planck, one of the main presenters, that will give you a flavor of what was discussed:
Along with the presentation there were lots of hands on demos and workshops using various tools.
Although virtual reality is currently at a high level of hype, the concept in various forms has been around for some time ( see this article on the history of VR ). This article dates the concept back to 1930’s science fiction. It is possible to trace the concept even further back than this article does to the use of immersive panoramic paintings.
This picture illustrates the Battle of Borodino panorama created in Moscow in 1911:
There is also an earlier example in the US at the Gettysburg Museum, which attempts to give a sense of the last day of the civil war battle that took place there.
What was most revealing for me at the conference, was not VR, but the potential for augmented reality, which enables the projection of information and animations on a view of the real world. This is illustrated by a recent demo at the Apple developers conference, which introduced ARKit to app developers. Although initially this will probably be most used for entertainment apps, there is huge potential for creating a variety of learning related apps. I am looking forward to seeing how this develops when it becomes widely available.