Just five years ago, virtual reality (VR) was thought of as something from science fiction (such as Star Trek's Holodeck). But in 2013, the first publicly available virtual reality headset was released (Oculus Rift Development Kit 1), making virtual reality a very real and accessible experience. ERC immediately saw potential in this new technology as an immersive tool for enhancing student's learning experience.
One of ERC's earliest educational experiences of VR technology was through an app called Mars Odyssey. It simulated what it would be like to explore Mars by having the user interact with a variety of robots NASA had sent to the red planet. This was setup for a group of teachers at Fresno State University. It was a captivating and memorable experience for all that got to experience it. One in particular stayed an hour after the event was over and literally had to be pried away from the VR headset.
That's when we realized that we needed to share this with more people. About that time, we came across a story that virtual reality arcades were popping up all over the country. When Dr. Steve Price heard of this story, he said "Let's open one here in Fresno!" By opening a VR arcade, we can have a sustainable business that offers cutting edge and immersive technologies to people who normally can not experience VR because of the high costs and technical expertise needed to set it up. So a few months later, the arcade was opened, with six permanent VR stations and a large warehouse space in the back for birthday parties and group events.
Dr. Price also envisioned the warehouse space as a location for teaching the latest and greatest in STEM education, from 3D printing to computer programming. The space was recently furnished with tables and chairs, with designs inspired by maker spaces and learning centers.
Click here to visit imm3rse.in, the virtual reality arcade started by Paul Seow and Jet Vong of ERC.