Libraries getting into VR

Technology introduced on west side

— Washington State Library is going virtual reality.

The company Oculus VR has donated 50 virtual reality headsets to the library, which is installing them around in select libraries in Western Washington.

University of Washington will then study the usage.

“This partnership ushers in a new era of services and capabilities offered by libraries across Washington,” Secertary of State Kim Wyman said.

“I’m so proud to help put Washington at the forefront of what is sure to become a nationwide trend.”

The Office of the Secretary of State oversees the library.

“This is an amazing opportunity for all residents of Washington who use library services for education as well as entertainment,” State Librarian Cindy Aden said.

“It’s so important for libraries to keep up with the developing needs of its patrons and introducing new, exciting technology is key to accomplishing that goal.”

Oculus officials believe virtual reality is a vast research space that has only begun to be explored.

Since 2012, it has been bringing together researchers and engineers spanning a wide range of expertise to further the reach of VR into several prominent categories, including education, training and film.

“We already know that VR has superpowers to accelerate learning,” Oculus Education Program Manager Cindy Ball said.

“Both VR and AR will have a profound effect on education, from making difficult academic subjects more accessible and increasing the efficiency of surgical training to providing a rich backdrop for storytelling and the development of empathy and understanding.”

Oculus is a subsidiary of Facebook.

The VR systems will be available at the Tukwila, Federal Way and Youth Services Center branches of the King County Library System; Puyallup Public Library; Mount Vernon Public Library; and the Hoquiam and Shelton branches of the Timberland Regional Library System.


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