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virtual reality

What is Virtual Reality?

virtual realityYou may have seen commercials with people wearing thick black goggles, headphones, and tiny gloves. These people might look like they’re sitting on the couch, but they may be climbing a mountain, skiing, or fighting fake zombies.  They are immersed in virtual reality, a trending technology that allows you to participate in the world of the game you’re playing, experience a roller-coaster without waiting in line, or control the Mars rover.  According to Paul Szoldra with Business Insider, “It’s not just about video games. NASA is using virtual reality to control its Curiosity Rover on Mars right now. Hollywood filmmakers are toying with the possibility of telling stories in a virtual world no longer constrained by a static screen in a movie theater. And everyone from architects to medical professionals are adapting the technology for their own ends.”

An NPR article addresses the potential for using virtual reality (or VR) to help in cognitive behavioral therapy. Itsy, a Samsung Nordic Virtual Reality app, is meant to help significantly reduce spider fear in three hours. Developed by William Hamilton and tested in cooperation with psychologists at Stockholm University, Itsy takes techniques borrowed from cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, transports them into a gamelike VR environment, and introduces viewers to animated spiders that slowly become more realistic.


Virtual reality still has a long way to go before it becomes mainstream. The devices released this year by HTC, Facebook’s Oculus, Sony PlayStation and Google largely revolve around gaming, limiting their audience. In addition, most of the devices are expensive.

But the technology has made significant strides. It works smoothly, and the experiences are immersive and stunning. Apps released this year — like Tilt Brush , a 3-D painting tool for HTC’s Vive, or SuperHyberCube , which is like Tetris with a virtual-reality twist for PlayStation VR — demonstrated virtual reality’s tremendous potential.

Chen, B. X. (2016). Biggest tech failures and successes of 2016. New York Times.
King, B. J. (2016).
Szoldra, P. (2016). It’s nearly impossible to describe the mind-blowing experience of virtual reality.  Business Insider.


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