The moment I met a Tyrannosaurus Rex; why Virtual Reality is the Next Big Thing
This blog post is by James Whyte from our Corporate and Brand team.
The British Museum is host to some of the most amazing antiquities the world has ever seen – famously brought together as the 100 objects that shaped the world.
This week, technology research house CONTEXT wowed an audience at the museum with demonstrations of what it believes to be the 101st object to change the world: Virtual Reality (VR).
Bringing together academics, VR device makers and content creators, the limitless potential of VR became apparent to all involved.
One demo from Oculus places an unsuspecting viewer in a museum hallway. All is well, until the slow thump of a Tyrannosaurus Rex appears at the end of the corridor. Within moments it’s a few metres away, and lets rip a roar that shudders through the headset, giving everyone who experienced it their own Night at the Museum moment.
This demo was one of many that showcased the power of VR to transport people away from their everyday. But the event was more than video game demos, and cinematic cut scenes.
Meanwhile his colleague in the Classics department Dr Matthew Nicholls has painstakingly recreated Ancient Rome in VR so that his students can wander around the city just like its citizens from 2000 years ago. His project engages students in a way that no traditional teaching aid like a 2D map could.
Dr Nicholls teaches his students how to create 3D models of their own to add to the city, bringing them closer to the subject matter. It’s not hard to imagine how this could revolutionise how subjects are taught. Chemistry students could perform extremely hazardous experiments safely in VR, criminologists could explore a crime scene, and fantastic virtual megastructures could be built to test the understanding of engineers.
At the other end of the showcase was Brighter’s jDome Bike Around. This unique contraption combines an exercise bike with a domed screen that envelops the viewer. Designed for those living with dementia, it syncs to Google Street View so that they can cycle around their neighbourhoods safely, with no risk of them getting lost.
CONTEXT is closely tracking the development of the Virtual Reality ecosystem, with all indicators pointing to a very promising future. The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive have both launched earlier this year, and Sony is launching their version in October for PlayStation, so VR’s breakout year is certainly continuing apace.