Cameron Clements | Scroll Illustration (Cameron Clements, Scroll Illustration)

Exploring Virtual Reality: Headset demo offered at BYU-I

VR headsets are now available in the BYU-Idaho University Store and offer students an opportunity to experience a free virtual reality demo.
VR, or virtual reality, means users can immerse themselves into computer-generated environments and interact with these environments the same way they would in real life, according to LiveScience’s website.Richard McBurney, BYU-I bookstore technology services coordinator, said virtual reality is a relatively new technology that allows users to experience digital media in a new and exciting way.

“Virtual reality is just a process where they try and take things that you experience and put it in a virtual space,” McBurney said. “It’s kind of like a video game or a movie.”

McBurney said the technology has only recently become available to the public within the past two years.

“You might have seen on Facebook the ads with Lil Wayne playing with virtual reality,” McBurney said. “Google had their Google Cardboard for a while, another VR peripheral thing that you could use.”

McBurney said the VR goggles have been available to students to try for about a year.

“We finally got some that people can actually buy if they really like them, and we’ve only had those for about three months.”

McBurney said virtual reality gives you a little bit more control in interacting with entertainment.

“By the time you’re like 30 seconds into the video, it feels super natural to just look around and experience, not just like a program that has been recorded for you, but every detail,” McBurney said. “It’s almost like you’re there.”

McBurney said the bookstore’s main goal with the Samsung Gear VR is to bring people in and help students feel comfortable with technology.

“Part of the introduction that we do will take you from being in outer space to the top of a cliff to this little hut in Mongolia,” McBurney said. “You want to try it multiple times because there are things that you will miss every time.”

McBurney said students’ reactions have been very positive.

Brandon Neubert, a senior studying computer information technology, tried the headset out and said it was easy to use.

“Why isn’t I-Learn 3.0 like this?” Neubert said. “I can pick it up without having any training and just use it. It is very cool.”

Alyssa Flake, a freshman studying art, said the reality of the headset gave her a new perspective on wildlife.

“My virtual experience started out in the woods where there was a dinosaur with a really long neck,” Flake said. “You could really see how the dinosaur was moving.”

Flake said she would absolutely do it again.

“It think it’s a fun experience,” Flake said. “It’s cool that our school is becoming more tech savvy and having more things for people to try.”

McBurney said the bookstore plans to have a lot more emerging technology for people to come and try in the future.

“We are expanding into different Bluetooth speakers and headphones, different portable projectors, things that allow you to just plug in your phone or experience some new technology, even if you can’t buy it,” McBurney said.

McBurney said he wants students to try the different forms of technology that the bookstore has to offer.

“Just come in and try it out,” McBurney said. “We’re super cool here. We have fun, so don’t be afraid to come in and give us your suggestions.”

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