Science in Virtual Reality
People are beginning to experience virtual reality for the first time and many people who are using virtual reality are still in the phase of trying to get used to it.
One of the virtual reality adventures people can experience is called COLOSSE. It’s an experience of real-time virtual reality storytelling, with a character-focused, stylized visual language. I spent simple two minutes inside the simple, beautiful animated world, but it’s strangely transformative.
People have said how incredible it is to be inside an immersive virtual reality story. There are no words to define the power of immersive experience. Virtual reality is something that you really need to try in order to understand it. Regardless of the restricted color palate and simplified visual language, COLOSSE manages to cognitively and physically take the user into a world that, thanks to virtual reality is unbelievable yet believable at the same time.
Motion sickness is still an issue people talk about who use VR headsets, however it seems to be much more under control than when virtual reality was first created. Developers, gaming enthusiasts and film studios have embraced the recent release of the fist consumer-ready virtual reality headsets. Virtual reality offers promises and a truly immersive experience to convert how we interact, play and learn but exactly how this will progress is to be determined.
It’s particularly interesting to think of how virtual reality can be used for education purposes and awareness in science and medicine, outside its superficial demand rather than as a simple gimmick.
Animated biomedical stories about epidemics and cancer are the focus of the research carried out at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research. These animations show how things can go wrong in disease, and how these biological molecules behave in the cells of our body.
People can envision three-dimensional scenes, then the editing process and animation software enables them to convert these scenes into a two-dimensional viewing on a screen – allowing a ‘window’ into the world of a molecule, for example.
One of the most common things that the people ask is how they can get outside the view field. People want to jump through the window, rather than just watching out through the window.
You can make that happen by using virtual reality. The question that arises is what would this achieve?
Could virtual reality facilitate embodied cognition, connecting our physical experiences to our thoughts? Pedagogical approaches that the tie experience for thinking has been shown to improve learning in many ways, dating back to the experimental knowledge concepts of John Dewey, 1938. Anatomy students can now progress by looking at an illustration within a text book and can also interact with the anatomical structures in 3D.
Over the past 12 months, education and virtual reality have also been presented in TEDx and TED speaker series. Michael Bodekaer is the founder of Labster who teaches life sciences through the gamified talks of education through the immersive 3D laboratories and virtual worlds. Alex Faaborg, from Google Cardboard, talks about how virtual reality is giving incredible opportunities for the journalism, future art, and education sectors.
Working on the boundaries of the communicative technology, Chris Milk expanded virtual reality into a new picture for storytelling. You will notice that there is no strong focus on education in this last example, but it’s hard not to visualize how virtual reality will convert the science storytelling and then how these virtual reality stories will impact education.
Telling science stories about epigenetics is a challenge, a topic that is dynamic, complex and enormously complex for most people. Epigenetic structures and events even smaller than light’s wavelength. However, epigenetics mechanisms are absolutely crucial. They commonly go erratic in disease and they connect us to our ancestors.
Communicating all this in an informative and engaging way may be hard, but biomedical animations are able to cover this gap for most through the scientific accuracy, beautiful images and accurate animations that tend to be awe inspiring. But, visualize being able to go past the field of view, actually inside the cell and through the window.
Some of the primary projects that have discovered this include Molecule VR, one of the many educational tools that are developed by Unimersiv that intends to integrate and support the classic learning and coaching methods.
This 360-degree demonstration of video from the Nucleus Medical Media seems to be amazing even on a mobile device. Random 42, a scientific communication studio has also produced an unbelievable virtual reality experience that uses the transduction signal pathway to move the user into the cell.
Certainly, this is just the start of scientific visualization in virtual reality, but would these immersive virtual reality experiences actually interpret to improved understanding? How do we overcome the mechanical boundaries that still exist? What science stories in virtual reality are more suitable for telling?
While virtual reality technology is very exciting, the questions and challenges that arise through virtual reality and science are especially interesting.