On June 22nd, the fifth edition of the IT Academy lectures took place at the Centre for Information Technology (CIT) of the University of Groningen. An afternoon full of discoveries, education and, above all, exploring the world of virtual reality yourself. The IT Academy took us for a ride in a virtual rollercoaster, literally.
The first lecture of the day is about virtual reality in general. Where does it come from? What do we use it for? Guest speaker Milan Vogelaar from STARK Learning is very clear about one thing: ‘talking about VR is nice, but you really need to experience it to know what it is about.’ Milan starts talking about immersive imaging, which means that you start to believe you’re in another world. ‘That’s what virtual reality does. It’s like a dream: it feels like you’re somewhere else’, he continues, ‘VR glasses are like a big TV-screen you just can’t turn your eyes off.’ It turns out that immersive imaging isn’t a recent development. Cave paintings, dated to some 40.000 years ago, shows it’s prehistoric origin. Nowadays, virtual reality is being used for multiple purposes like education, health and engineering.
An effective business tool
VR is also very interesting for scientific and business purposes. Big guys like NASA use it to train their astronauts and also when it comes to marketing, VR seems to be an effective tool. Last year for example, Albert Heijn distributed VR dinosaur cards to their (little) costumers. Want to know what it feels like to drive your brand new car? Audi offers their potential buyers the possibility to test drive their cars during a virtual ride. Ikea also works with a virtual kitchen showroom and it won’t take long before people can project their new Ikea furniture in their homes. Testing products has never been easier.
Let the ‘real’ work begin
After the short lecture, Milan takes us to the ‘playroom’ where we get to try a variety of VR glasses and applications. Here, we truly felt like kids in a candy store. There was an application for an archery game, where you hold a controller in each hand to shoot, and also the WALL-E game where you get to move things with your virtual hands was extremely popular among the group. When playtime was over, we moved to the ‘reality theatre’ where next level virtual reality was demonstrated by Frans, the illusion manager of the university. With his super high-tech gadgets and toys, Frans is able to teleport people to magnificent places where it’s hard to tell the difference between reality and fiction. A huge screen brought us to the new Wildlands Adventure Zoo in Emmen, an old sugar factory and the countryside of Groningen. And just when we thought things couldn’t get more realistic, he invited us to his ‘reality cube’ where you’re literally surrounded by virtuoso virtual screens. Somewhat dizzy, we got to the informal reception for a drink and some networking afterwards. ‘So, what do you do? What did you think of the lecture?’ Yep, we’re definitely back to reality.
About IT Academy
The goal of the IT Academy is to establish a high quality, healthy and well-balanced employment market in the north of Holland. To do so, they organize networking events and several tech-related workshops, trainings and lectures for professionals, organizations and students. Interested in joining an IT Academy lecture? You can sign up at their website (www.itacademy.nl). Participation is free of charge.