If you are fond of video games, you must have heard about VR, but for an amateur like me, it means simply to put on a special “glasses” with which I can see a virtual world. Therefore, I was extremely excited when I knew that KTH was going to hold the FIRST International Virtual Reality Science Festival from 13 to 14 May. Although it has been a week, this experience is so eye-opening that I hope a recap is never too late!
1. VR Exhibition: Put on your glasses!
The festival is divided into three days, from Friday to Sunday, and into four categories: VR film, lectures, workshops, and of course VR exhibitions from participating institutions. I can’t wait to try VR by myself now!
Participants on the headsets in front of a booth
To be more “correct”, it is called a “headset” rather than a pair of glasses. To be honest, it is even heavier than a protective helmet. But once I put it on, I step into a new world:
First I found myself walking near a construction site in Kista, Stockholm (a project by Stockholm city )
and then colliding with white blood cell in blood vessel
and driving a racing car.
What’s more, I was told that VR does not always require a bulky headset: for example, you can view the departure and landing of an airplane from a piece of card by downloading an app! (Service from a company called Sigma)
2. Lecture and workshop
There are a series of lectures and workshops running throughout the day, with topics relating game design, VR at work……As a life science student, I registered for the first talk on Saturday: “Blank Canvas” by scientists from MIT.
In the talk, they described how they start by cooperating with hospital in order to extend the scope of VR to biological medical applications. Unsurprisingly, the revolutionary CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing tool is one of their future ambitions.
In the afternoon, I attended another talk about VR meeting. The speaker from the communication giant Telia demonstrated how a VR meeting connected he and his colleagues.
3. VR in Life Science?
All in all, besides the Blank Canvas talk by MIT, there are some many evidence showing that how intimidate VR is connected to life science: there are many companies and institutions are applying VR to educational purpose in popular science.
For example, there is VR demonstration of anatomy of a frog, layers of our skin, and even newly revealed structure of the notorious Zika virus. When the I put on the headset and point I finger on the molecule, I can not only appreciate the virus (as large as body size) from all angles in the air, but also listen to the narration about its scientific background when I specify a point.
VR and a frog!
After all of this, my impression is that VR would probably be a way how pupil learn science!
4. VR and KTH
I cannot end this blog without mentioning the how media technology develops robustly at KTH, right? At KTH, media technology belongs to School of Computer Science and Communication and it holds the leading position in Sweden. A few months ago, I joined a visit to VIC studio together with a group of KTH students. At the developing center, it is my first time to wear the VR headset: I drove a F1 formula, visited a historical museum, ramble in Alice’s wonderland and jumped from cliff to cliff.
The only pity of this amazing festival is that I can neither photograph nor videotape my experience in VR and record them in this blog —— because, it is really BEYOND words!