One of the newest makerspaces on MIT’s campus exists in virtual reality — where students are pioneering a medium so new that the terminology is still being defined.
In the hands-on humanities class CMS.339 (Virtual Reality and Immersive Media Production) students are grappling with multiple dimensions of making virtual reality (VR), among them: technical challenges, such as how to prevent the fatigue common to users of VR devices; philosophical questions, such as the difference between “presence” and “immersion”; and issues related to the art of storytelling, especially discovering the visual languages and narrative forms that VR enables.
First, the terms. Today, “virtual reality” is generally held to mean a computer-generated experience that attempts to immerse the user in a simulated world. “Augmented reality” (AR) inserts computer-generated elements into the user’s view of the real world; you might, for example, be able to bounce a virtual ball while otherwise viewing the room in which you are actually standing.
Another term, “360 video,” describes the experience of essentially being in the movie you are viewing — except that you are not an actor; while you can look at the scene from every angle, you can’t affect the scene.
Watch more VR videos at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLK2ccNIJVPpAE70t_3g4_oKzL_60zlmA5