WMU opens free virtual reality space for students, faculty

Virtual reality has come to Western Michigan University. A new lab that has six workstations with high-end PCs, Oculus Rift headsets, and Oculus Touch hand controllers has opened in the lower level of Waldo Library.

Virtual reality is part of a rapidly expanding part of the economy. "In three short years," says Tom Wolf, chief Information officer for the Office of Information Technology  "virtual reality has grown into a billion-dollar industry that has significantly disrupted the gaming and entertainment industries while opening up new educational opportunities in fields such as military, space, flight, archeology, medical, engineering, architecture and the fine arts." 

In Room 0135 students can experience both the entertainment and educational side of virtual reality content. The lab will help faculty members learn about the technology and how to integrate VR content into classes and research. More than 20 virtual reality titles are supported.

Software and other learning materials will be available to help students and faculty create their own VR content. They may also bring their own content developed elsewhere to test in the Lab.

The lab was created in a collaboration between the University Libraries and Office of Information Technology.

Western Michigan University has scheduled an open house for the free virtual reality space on Thursday, Feb. 15 from 5 to 7 p.m. The event will feature brief remarks made after 5 p.m.

The free VR lab is available on a first-come first-served basis during open hours. Other times may be reserved by contacting Kevin Abbott, Office of Information Technology here. kevin.abbott@wmich.edu.

"We are excited to be working with OIT to host the VR lab in the libraries and bring greater exposure and understanding to how virtual reality can impact teaching and learning," says Dean of Libraries Julie Garrison. "We invite all students, faculty, and staff from across the university to take advantage of this excellent new resource and come to play, experiment and learn about virtual reality's potential."

Source: Deanne Puca, Western Michigan University

Hours of operation
The VR lab is open each week on these days and at these times:
• Sundays through Thursdays, 9 p.m. to midnight
• Mondays, 10 a.m. to noon
• Wednesdays, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.
• Thursdays, 4 to 6 p.m.
• Fridays, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
For more information, visit here.