The Public VR Lab is a collaborative effort to facilitate a public dialogue and projects around new VR-related technologies; to support the community creation of 360, virtual and augmented content, provide access to tools and headsets; and to generate socially-relevant and locally-focused public interest VR experiences. Brookline Interactive Group (BIG) and Northampton Community Television (NCTV) launched this VR accessibility and literacy initiative at their community media centers in Northampton and Brookline, MA, beginning in Spring of 2016.
In this short video, BIG’s Executive Director, Kathy Bisbee, who co-founded the Public VR Lab with NCTV’s Executive Director, Al Williams, shares the vision of the Lab’s work to bring the public access to VR/AR, local content creation, expertise and public trainings through several initiatives.
Since then the Lab has offered free weekly public demos of VR experiences via the HTC Vive headset and controllers at both locations, at senior centers, fairs, and at pop-up public events, and created a fall VR Academy to train Brookline High School students. The Lab held its first Meetup in Boston in August 2016 with speakers from the VR content creation team at FRONTLINE on their pioneering immersive journalism films and projects, and has since partnered with VR/AR Hackathons, other mixed reality creators and labs, and in collaboration with Boston VR, the Science & Media Awards Summit, the Pioneer Valley Game Group, and curated the interactive component of the 2016 Northampton Film Festival. The Public VR Lab recently offered a mini-VR Lab talk and demos in Charleston, WV to offer opportunities to residents there.
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FREE & Accessible Virtual Reality Demos
Since May of 2016, through the Public VR Lab, BIG and NCTV have provided free public demos of over thirty virtual reality experiences to hundreds of local residents. This free public access allows any community member the opportunity to experiment with VR-related technologies and storytelling in VR. In 2017, the Lab will also offer augmented reality (AR) demos as well. List of VR demos and experiences available.
Brookline Interactive Group, 46 Tappan Street, Brookline MA. 3rd Floor of the Unified Arts Building, Directly next door to the Brookline hills green line stop.
Wednesdays: 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM
NCTV, Northampton MA
[NCTV] Northampton MA
The VR Academy is a project of the Public VR Lab that began in Fall 2016 to help facilitate content creation through classes, workshops and hackathons focused on training high school and college students, as well as adults. The VR Academy also will launch regional and nationwide training programs in 2017 to train non-profit organizational staff, small businesses, and education administrators how to use, create, and implement VR-related technologies into their day-to-day services and programs. In 2017, the VR Academy/Public VR Lab will offer classes and workshops in Brookline/Boston and western Massachusetts in Unity, Simmetri, 3-D Modeling for VR, 360 Filmmaking & Cinematography, Digital Storytelling in 360, Storytelling in AR, and larger scale hackathons with a goal of training and content creation generated from the Lab and shared throughout the VR and broader community.
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BIG & NCTV has and will continue to set up free community demos at a variety of locations, including senior and youth centers, at housing projects, libraries, conferences, hospitals, community fairs, business events, colleges, and in public places throughout 2016 and 2017. Check here for a link to our events calendar for the Public VR Lab.