MIT students explore the technical, philosophical, and artful dimensions of VR.
The students of MIT are exploring all dimensions of virtual reality. At the MIT campus, the Virtual Reality and Immersive Media Production class are experiencing hands-on the makings of VR. Some challenges are technical, trying to prevent users of VR devices from becoming exhausted. Other issues are dealing with the art of storytelling, etc.
An interactive tour called “MITVR” allows anyone to explore the MIT campus. There are audio narration and a 360-degree video and animations. This experience lets users teleport between all MIT locations.
“It takes eight minutes to learn how to make the 360-video camera work. The rest — figuring out the experience you want to make — is your mind,” says instructor Sandra Rodriguez, who first taught the semester-long class in 2017 in collaboration with William Uricchio, professor of comparative media studies. Their class, which made history as the first VR class ever to be offered at MIT, ran again this term.
The success of MIT’s first virtual reality class suggests a promising future for MIT VR endeavors. One student sent his 360 video to the Vatican and now has a full-time job shooting 360 videos of Pope Francis. Another is working on VR projects for the New York Police Department.
“My preoccupation,” says Rodriguez “is about facilitating access to creation.” Not every student in the class will make a career of virtual reality, of course, but for Rodriguez, it is rewarding that the class is opening up the VR world to more makers. Because VR equipment is expensive, access to the field has often been limited.