14:03 PM

Neumann Library hosts discussion on virtual and augmented futures

Univeristy of Houston-Clear Lake’s Alfred R. Neumann Library will be hosting a panel discussion titled “Virtual and Augmented Futures,” spotlighting augmented and virtual reality and their implications for teaching, learning and future careers. The event, to be held Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2-3:30 p.m., brings together seven experts in fields including technology, software engineering, psychology and digital media.

Neumann Library Executive Director Vivienne McClendon said that the event is ahead of the opening of an XR lab — a combination of augmented and virtual reality, that she hopes will open in the library this fall.

“After the panel discussion, people will have the opportunity to use and interact with VR headsets and try them out,” McClendon said. “The panelists, who include UH-Clear Lake Associate Professor of Communications and Digital Media Michael Brims and Associate Professor of Psychology Nicholas Kelling, will address questions, including the biggest challenges facing XR and how businesses can benefit from its use.”

Two of the panelists are NASA engineers, continued McClendon, and training astronauts in a VR lab has proven to be the most effective way to train them for their missions. “I believe VR will replace most of our simulator environments that are more hardware than software,” she said. “Typically, most of our simulators are pods or other pieces of very expensive hardware that make a person feel they’re piloting a plane, for example. Soon, VR and AR will replace these.”

Coming to the panel discussion event is a way for students and faculty to try out the AR and VR goggles. “If a professor would like to do a research project or use this actively in their class, they can try out the headsets and know what they’d like to buy for their own lab,” she said. “This is wearable technology. In the future, you’ll just look at the thing you want and it goes there because it will recognize what your eyes are focusing on. It’s a step toward no longer having a keyboard, and the potential for accessibility is great.”

McClendon has co-edited a book titled “Educational Media and Technology Yearbook,” which takes a comprehensive look at innovations and developments in the field of media and technology information programs.

Read more online about the Alfred R. Neumann Library.