Fairfield University is taking a massive step into the future. The University now has its very own Virtual Reality Chamber available for students to use in Xavier Hall. The space allows for an interactive experience with endless possibilities for students working in film and consists of a PC powerful enough to project just about anything one can think of throughout the space.
The University will be utilizing the chamber in the classroom, and has a class contoured specifically around virtual reality. Assistant professor of film, television & media arts Patrick Brooks is among one of the first professors to begin utilizing the chamber in his class, Science Fiction Genres: Virtual Reality.
“I’m currently offering a class on science fiction films that feature depiction of VR, such as ‘Total Recall,’ ‘The Matrix,’ ‘Ready Player One’ and many others. I hope this is a powerful entry point into the world of VR for students, allowing them to see how the sci-fi genre imagines the great possibility, dangers, limits and endless possibilities of the platform. After watching and discussing a group of 12-13 films, students will have their own opportunity to either make (using our VR camera), or envision a virtual reality experience,” said Brooks.
Many know about the concept of VR from Oculus goggles released in 2016, which allow a person to virtually transport themselves to almost anywhere in the world. Brooks explained that the experience is so realistic that one can easily forget where they are.
“Hopefully they will find how easy it is to forget where you are and even question, a little bit, their assumptions of what is real and what is virtual,” said Brooks. “Already, a number of students have spent hours in the VR room and have reported that at times, they forgot they were in a basement in Xavier Hall.”
One of those students is Justin Demas ‘17, who commented on the new addition to Xavier Hall.
“When I first started I felt like a kid again, cause as a kid I was into gaming. So doing a new form of it and actually feeling it and experiencing it — it was something you never think you could ever do but in today’s day and age with all the new tech, its crazy,” said Demas excitedly.
The VR Chamber is catered to the use of film, television and media arts majors; however, the possibilities are endless.
“I would recommend everyone do this because it’s just a whole new perspective on the world,” continued Demas.
The Mirror had the opportunity to test drive the new program, which has its home in a small, dark room in the offices of Xavier Hall. The first thing one notices about the space is that there is nothing in the room but the system itself. This is because, while using the virtual reality system, it can be easy to knock into the walls and things in the room.
“We have this very powerful computer and hardware in campus, primarily focused in FTM students. However, I’m always looking for faculty and student collaborators, who would like to take advantage of this resource, within reason, to create singular, interdisciplinary efforts,” pointed out Brooks.