College of Communication and Information Purchases Virtual Reality Sets for Students
Learning about virtual reality (VR) technology and its applications in the communication industry is now a physical reality for students of Kent State University’s College of Communication and Information (CCI).
CCI purchased five VR sets during the summer of 2016. The sets include a 360-degree camera, a VR headset and a smartphone, in addition to the cords, cables and instruction manuals needed to support the technology.
“We’re always looking to provide students within the college new and innovative technology for communicating, and one of those is virtual reality,” Chris Hallahan, CCI interactive designer and developer, said. “It’s almost a resurgence in VR. It’s been around for years. […] For journalists, especially, it’s a new way to tell their stories. For designers, it’s a new way to design interfaces in more of this immersive environment.”
Three sets are available at the Student Resource Lab in Franklin Hall. Any CCI student, regardless of major, can check the sets out for free for 24 hours at a time.
“We’re hearing from alumni and businesses that this is an area they’d like graduates to understand and know more about,” Hallahan said. “The agencies we’ve talked to are purchasing similar equipment, so it’s cool that we can do things that major companies are doing here at Kent State.”
Two of the sets have been allocated to IdeaBase, Kent State’s student-powered design agency specializing in graphic design, web design, usability, branding, video and advertising. While the agency hasn’t created VR content for its clients yet, it has been showing the equipment off during meetings so clients know they have the capability to create this type of content.
IdeaBase hosted a UX Akron meeting in September, where Hallahan and the IdeaBase team showcased the equipment and discussed its growing importance in the communication industry with a group of user experience design professionals.
“It’s great for businesses to understand that Kent State is on the forefront of user experience and technology,” Hallahan said. “I think it’s a win-win for Kent State to host these kinds of events. […] We’re always looking to get our students connected with things like internships or jobs. If you can build that connection organically, it’s going to be awesome for our students in the future.”
“I’d recommend demoing it sometime either at Franklin or over here [at IdeaBase] to get an idea of what you can do,” Hallahan said. “You can go into a Netflix app and watch a show in a virtual living room environment, you can play games, you can go experience the whole YouTube 360 library. There’s this whole app ecosystem that is coming up because of this, and students could potentially contribute to it.”
For more information about the Student Resource Lab and checking out the VR sets, visit http://www.library.kent.edu/about/departments/circulation/jmc-student-resource-lab.