How can we effectively use augmented and virtual realities for communicating science?
Virtual reality (VR)and augmented reality (AR) are trending technologies in gaming and marketing products. While we often use these terms interchangeably, they alter our reality in different ways. Virtual reality completely alters our reality by blocking our surroundings using an opaque headset and placing us in a new (virtual) environment. Some of these headsets come with motion sensors that allow you to move in the virtual space using actual body and hand movements. Imagine being in your home and visiting Greece by just wearing a headset. Augmented reality doesn’t cut you from your surroundings, but adds information on top of it. Look at all the Snapchat filters, they modify your looks or the background as you click a snap in your room.
Using these technologies can communicate scientific information in an interesting way. Imagine visiting a museums and planetariums while sitting in your room using the VR headset. Millions of people who cannot visit a museum can learn about its display and history effectively through this medium. And, imagine learning about cell machinery when you enter it virtually as a microorganism or navigating through the solar system.
This new medium opens the world to scientists and journalists to communicate science using strong visual and narrative elements. There will be a switch from scientific jargon for publishing findings in academic journals and science magazines to a more visual, immersive experience for the audience. With this, interests in different branches of science can be sparked and scientific temper can be promoted. While several people have started investigating this, there’s still a lot to explore and communicate. Why don’t you try your hands at it and share it?
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