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Xtended Reality

The XR (Extended Reality) Studio brings students, faculty and staff to work collaboratively on components of virtual spaces, immersive and interactive multimedia experiences.

About the Studio

We host opportunities for Middlebury community members to experience both highly immersive VR environments like those available through tools such as the Occulus Rift or the HTC Vive, as well as lower threshold VR encounters with 360 video and images through Google Cardboard viewers, smartphones, and mobile applications.

Explorations

Intra-media pulls apart the components, examines how they work together, and re-assembles them to create interesting and informative pieces. Inter-media looks at how the XR technologies interact with activities in physical and other digital spaces. Students, faculty and staff work collaboratively on ways to “break the box” and have meaningful interactions with people in different geographic locations.

Spaces, Tools and Software

XR is ubiquitous. No matter where you are, if you have a phone, tablet, laptop, or a piece of hardware specifically engineered for VR, you can experience a "reality" as digital information that intertwined with the physical world, or as an immersive experience unto itself. At Middlebury, we have a few spaces dedicated to XR, as well as special tools and hardware to help you immerse yourself in new worlds.

Spaces

In our dedicated XR spaces on the Middlebury and Monterey campuses, you can try out virtual reality with the help of a trained guide.

Tools

Some of the tools we have for XR include:

  • Google Cardboard (Monterey)
  • Oculus Rift (Middlebury)
  • Oculus Go (Monterey & Middlebury)
  • HTC Vive (Monterey)
  • Leap Motion (Middlebury)

Software

Some of the software we have includes:

  • Leap Motion
  • Tilt Brush
  • Google Earth
  • The Lab
  • Developer software: Unity, Unreal

VR for Teaching and Learning

XR Interns

The DLINQ Interns who are involved in the XR studio perform hands-on work with hardware and software associated with XR, researching and developing extended reality environments; creating documentation; and prototyping mixed media environments.

Partners

We are collaborating with several classes and departments across Middlebury including the Center for the Blue Economy at the Institute; the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Institute; the Music department at the College; the Spanish department at the College; the School of Hebrew; and the Language Schools.

Try it Out

Immerse Yourself

Middlebury

Individuals can reserve the Oculus room by going to http://middlebury.libcal.com/booking/videorooms and reserving 240B. They will also need to check out the Oculus Touch controllers, available at Circulation.

Monterey

Book a 30-60 minute block of time to try out VR equipment on the Middlebury, VT or Monterey, CA campus. During demos, we try to model cooperative learning by creating a guide role and an experiencer role. A person becomes a guide after they have spent time in the virtual environment. They provided a kind of informal P2P hospitality for the person new to the Vive and VR. This human lifeline leads to the success of the demos and allows staff to get out of the way as peers teach one another how to be safe and how to navigate the virtual interface.

Play & Create

Book an appointment to learn about accessible applications of VR content viewing and creation such as:

  • Interacting with available VR content such as 360 narratives using inexpensive Google Cardboard Viewers and smartphone
  • Exploring Google Street View app with Cardboard and 360 image capture tool
  • Creating 360 images and audio with Google Cardboard camera app (Android/iOS)
  • Thinking critically about the affordances and limits of VR for teaching and learning.
  • Prototyping interactive VR content with Thinglink VR editor; for example:
    • Creating 360 videos and images with a Theta S camera

Projects & Activities

Representations of the Apocalypse

During the Fall 2017 semester we worked with Professor Patricia Saldarriaga’s FYSE 1500A: Apocalyptic Representations class. The course explored theories and representations of “apocalyptic imagination” across many forms of media, including virtual reality. At the end of the semester, students presented their final projects, virtual worlds representing the Apocalypse.

The worlds can be explored using an up-to-date web3d-enabled browser. immersing yourself in these worlds using the Oculus or Vive.

See this page for a list of links to the students' work.

iLead+Design 2016 guest stoke exploring improv to improve community action projects with local organizations. Thank you April and Galen! #designthinking #ileaddesign - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

Geek Outs

We have hosted a number of interactive exploration sessions and brown bag conversations on virtual reality as an emerging technology.

Sessions included opportunities to learn about accessible applications of VR content viewing and creation such as interacting with available VR content such as 360 narratives using inexpensive Google Cardboard Viewers and smartphone and creating 360 videos and images with the 360 Theta S camera.

More to Come

Future programming includes looking into Portals as a way to create realistic virtual exchanges between our campuses, coordinating in-language/culture based exchanges with a Shared Studios network sites representing some of the following languages: Russian, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Spanish, Arabic.

This reinforces Middlebury and DLINQ as

  • a center for persuasive and inclusive dialogue
  • a laboratory for curricular innovation and experiential learning
  • a globally networked changemaker

Dig Deeper...

Photo by Efe Kurnaz on Unsplash