Finding of the week #240

VR Status Quo: Huge Gap Between Awareness and Experience

During my ongoing literature review I often discover interesting facts about things I’ve never thought about. Sometimes I can connect these facts with my own observations: The result is mostly a completely new idea why things are as they are. Maybe these ideas are new to you, too. Therefore I’ll share my new science based knowledge with you!

This week: This time, I think about the huge gap between people who have heard about VR and people who already have experienced it,

The terms „virtual reality“ (VR) and „augmented reality“ (AR) start to become more and more well known these days. In particular, VR applications as well as technologies are experiencing a new boom thus causing a widespread awareness for the possibility of enjoying a total visual immersion in a virtual environment. However, although many people are aware of these technologies, only a few of them have actually experienced VR and know about the feeling of suddenly standing inside of a completely different world.

For instance, this semester, we started a new course for students who study to become a teacher that focusses on AR as well as VR technologies. In this course, students can develop an interdisciplinary competence between pedagogy and computer science that not only teaches them how to implement these technologies in schools, but also enables them to analyze and design AR/VR applications. At the start of the course’s first session, we asked the students about their experience with these technologies. As expected, all of them have heard about VR before, but only a small percentage reported to have actually used it.

An explanation for this phenomenon is the lack of good applications that address a broad audience. Currently, VR is mainly used by computer game players who are, despite the strong growth of the games industry, still in a minority. In addition, only a small percentage of all computer game players owns a VR device due to the high price and the small selection of good games. Of course, there are also serious and informative applications for VR but none of them really provides mainstream content. As a result, there is no good incentive for people to invest into a still expensive technology.

Therefore, we tried to fix this problem during the first session of our course by providing all students with a first-hand AR/VR experience. This approach was more than successful as all of them were totally amazed and immediately saw the great potential of these technologies for their future as a teacher.