Wallingford Library to add virtual reality to summer program

Wallingford Library to add virtual reality to summer program

reporter photo

WALLINGFORD — Pitching a tent in Antarctica, swimming with sea animals, and walking through the streets of any city in the world are just a few of the activities available with new virtual reality headsets for the teen summer program at the public library.

Head of Teen Services at Wallingford Library Jennifer Nash said the Collaboratory recently acquired two Oculus Quest headsets, a virtual reality system. She said the program will be made available to teens in grades 6 to 12 throughout the summer. Nash said teens can register online for a 30 minute session with the virtual reality headset.

“We’re going to predominately focus on kids having more of an experience, interacting with animals, creating art,” Nash said.

The VR headset consists of goggles with two control handles, one for each hand, which control movements within the space of virtual reality. The sound and images come directly from the headset and it is connected wirelessly through an Oculus application.

Creative Technologies Librarian Max Spurr tested out the VR headset Thursday by using the system to “walk” the streets of various cities and play games. Spurr said the reality headsets can display a walking tour of different streets and places in the world. His first stop was Tokyo, Japan. 

“Let’s go somewhere else,” Spurr said,flipping through options with a swift hand movement before appearing in Italy.

Head of Emerging and Creative Technologies Janet Flewelling said the previous Oculus technology included a headset that was tethered to a high-end computer, both of which are very expensive. She said the new technology that the library acquired, which was released in May, does not need to be connected to a computer. It instead connects to another device where others can see what is happening in the virtual world.

“All you need are the headset and some device to install the Oculus app on,” Flewelling said.

Nash said the reading component of the program will provide an incentive for teens to read more during the summer by offering the chance to win a Oculus Go VR set at the end of the summer. Each book that a teen reads will be considered for one entry. The more books read, the more likely a person will be chosen for the prize. 

“We’re hoping by having an awesome prize it will prompt kids that don’t read often to read this summer,” Nash said.

Nash said the program will run from July 1 to August 24. She said registration for the program is officially open on the Wallingford Public Library website. If the program is successful, the library will open access to the VR set in the fall.

“We plan to offer sessions to the public once the summer reading is over,” Nash said. “We want to try it out on them and see how it goes. If it is well received, we’ll open it up.”

Twitter: @JenieceRoman