The pioneering company continues its crusade of spreading VR by donating 100 headsets for educational purposes.
Oculus has always been a major supporter of the virtual reality community. The company is responsible for some of the industry’s most influential initiatives such as their VR For Good program, as well as teaming up with other manufacturers to establish VR industry standards and supporting VR art incubators. Now the Facebook subsidiary is focusing on making virtual reality more accessible than ever by bringing their Oculus Rift headsets to public libraries across California all for the low cost of $0.00.
As part of a pilot program between Oculus, Cali Group, VRLibraries and the California State library system, 100 Oculus Rift headsets and VR-ready PC’s will be donated to 90 different California libraries spread across half of the state’s 184 library jurisdictions.
“Public libraries provide safe, supportive environments that are available and welcoming to everyone,” said Cindy Ball, Oculus Education Program Manager, in a statement. “They help level the playing field by providing educational opportunities and access to technology that may not be readily available in the community households. Libraries share the love — at scale.”
The initiative seeks to highlight the educational potential of virtual reality by providing several informative, engaging experiences for library-goers to try out for free during their visits. The current catalogue of available VR titles include Google Earth, Apollo 11, Titans of Space 2.0, Everest, Ocean Rift, The Body VR, Guided Meditation VR and Star Chart with more on the way. The participating locations will also have access to titles from the recently-closed Oculus Story Studio such as Dear Angelica, Lost and Henry.
“Games have been, and will continue to be, a primary market driver for VR,” said Ball. “By highlighting the educational potential of VR in libraries, Oculus and Facebook are sending a message that games are not our sole focus.”
The current program only supports around 10% of California’s 1,100 branches, but should the pilot initiative prove itself a popular commodity, the California Library system would then seek additional funds for an expanded operation. Washington state has already expressed interest in adopting the program in their own libraries, hopefully indicating an exciting new wave of immersive education in libraries. With many public branches across the country incorporating new technology such as e-books and 3D printing, virtual reality is another perfect tool to help modernize fading library systems and reinvigorate youth interest.
To steal a quote made in the video above by the Technology Coordinator at Marin City Library, Etienne Douglas:
“This is not your Grandmother’s library anymore.”