MIT Students Taking Action With VR
Natalie Pitcher is a grad student at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. She has seen how undergrad and grad students at MIT have recently become very intrigued by virtual reality. She’s now working to make MIT a leader in the virtual reality movement. Virtual reality enables people to immerse themselves in experiences that are computer generated simulations available for viewing on headsets such as the Oculus Rift.
One of the main goals of VR @ MIT’s initiative is to raise awareness about virtual reality startups that are developed by MIT students. Pitcher said, “We believe that by serving the needs of the entrepreneur, we also serve the needs of the broader community who’s interested in learning about this exciting field.”
VR @ MIT Initiative
The VR @ MIT initiative was created by partnering with the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship. The startups that are developed at MIT are being shown on the VR @ MIT website. They’re having several events such as the “Virtually There” event on May 6th talking about virtual reality. They’re also having a “Hacking Arts 2016” event this upcoming November. Virtual reality and augmented reality are being explored by entrepreneurs and innovators throughout the world. Recently, a few tech veterans from Harmonix Music Systems obtained funding for their company virZoom Inc. Tufts Medical Center is in cahoots with Primacy (a VR company) to create hospital tours so that people can see what it’s like to be in a CT scanner before they go in for their actual appointment for example.
MIT Media Lab executive, John Werner even left his job recently to join Meta, an augmented reality company that has funding from a VR firm.
The Founder of VR @ MIT’s’ Words
Pitcher said, “The first thing that’s important to know about VR is that it’s impossible to experience it by reading about it. Once you have put on the headset, you’re brought into the potential of what VR can offer. The VR startup companies at MIT are looking into how people can completely immerse into new environments. MIT’s Ovrture is a VR content studio that worked with MSNBC for its “Lockup 360” show that enabled people to go “inside” a jail in California and be inside the documentary series through a much more immersive view. Pitcher said, “(Virtual reality) is really touted as an empathy machine. I don’t think that people understand what that means just yet.”
Pitcher had co founded the VR & MIT initiative with the help of Jacob Loewenstein. She hopes that MIT will be able to offer students a heavy duty computer for them to create their own VR games by the end of 2016. She said, “I don’t know how many other universities have the same drive and mandate to want to understand what comes next. The opportunity to be a change-maker in this new field is part of the spirit of the school.”