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Virtual Reality Lab Opens to Students in Merrill-Cazier Library

Herald Journal Monday, Dec. 11, 2017

Study Room 113 in Utah State University’s Merrill-Cazier Library isn’t just a space to hit the books — since last Tuesday, it also functions as a virtual reality lab. ... “I think it’s going to be really popular,” said Todd Hugie, director of library information technology at the Merrill-Cazier Library. It’s no Holodeck — the VR Lab is a small study room with a powerful PC connected to a Vive headset. The Vive is a “room-scale VR” platform from Taiwanese electronics manufacturer HTC and the U.S.-based Valve Corporation, which runs the popular Steam video gaming service. With more traditional VR headsets like the Oculus Rift, users stay in one spot but can look around at a virtual world completely surrounding them. With room-scale VR, users can move as well as look around. Two sensors up in the corners of the room track the position and motion of the headset and the two handheld controllers, and when a user approaches a wall, a green grid appears in the virtual world to show its location. And while an onlooker can’t see the 3D virtual world surrounding someone using the VR Lab, they can see a 2D version on a flatscreen monitor. ... The study room can only be reserved by USU students, but Hugie said students are free to bring interested faculty and family members.

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