Virtual Tour – Remote Everything

Yes, it’s been quite a while since I last posted.  A little over two months to be exact.  The grind of remote work has really been a challenge, especially since the Summer Semester began.  It’s really difficult to provide technology support remotely, especially when the individual is lacking basic computer skills.  It’s a real challenge to walk someone through changing a setting when they don’t know how to right-click.

Today is one of the first days I’m working back in my office.  The Library and Digital Commons are still closed so there’s no users in the lab.  It’s good to come here and get back in a work groove and there are several projects to be worked on.

One project is a Virtual Tour, although most of my role is done.  With help from STEM the college was able to get our hands on a Vuze VR/360 Camera.  The camera is pretty good and takes much of the work out of stitching together videos.  The video can then be edited right in Adobe Premiere, which is where the project is at now.

Last week I met with Josh from Security, Nolan from STEM, and Jonah from Marketing so that we could capture areas on campus for the virtual tour.  For about 2 hours we took 2-4 minutes of video from about 30 different locations all around campus.  Here’s a test below with 4 of the locations, outside of Hoffman, Chemistry Lab, Boland Theater, and the Digital Commons where my office is.

Marketing is now editing the final version, I’m really excited to see what they come up with!  Some of my drone video was used in the latest BCC commercial and I’m glad to see it put to good use.  There’s a shot of flying over Patterson where you can see the entire campus and also a rising shot of the nurses from a ceremony a month ago where they were outside, wearing masks and social distancing.

You will also see Jason, one of the Lab Assistants who worked in the Digital Commons as the thumbnail.  Jason went to study at UMASS I believe — I miss him and all the other Lab Assistants!

Since it’s been so long since posting I have all sorts of media and drone flights from the interim. Here’s a bonus drone video from Jones Nose on Mount Greylock!


Technology, VR, Covid-19

It’s been a busy and surreal week.  With all the news and talk of Covid-19 people are rushing to find technology solutions should we in the U.S., Massachusetts, or the Berkshires be told to stay home as has been the case in other places.  I myself have been pretty busy making sure we are ready at BCC insuring that there is a good and viable student support structure setup, which I feel there is.  Not only do we have our Knowledge Base, but should I myself have to work from home there are all sorts of other technology tools at my disposal including several laptops, Skype/Zoom, remote help assistance programs, and my good old trusty cell phone which all my desk calls are automatically forwarded to.

Another tool at my disposal is Virtual Reality.  While I may not be able to meet virtually with students unless they also have an Oculus headset, VR can provide an ability to meet with staff or faculty who have them.  This isn’t a new idea.  Even before the Covid-19 situation started Purdue was offering students the ability to attend commencement remotely.  There is also a recent Forbes article which discusses some conferences being hosted entirely through VR, no coincidence it’s a conference about VR so the folks who would be in attendance already have the equipment and know-how.

If you are looking for something extra scary and have a VR headset, you can experience what it’s like to be under quarantine in China, but maybe this is a little too real for some!

Regardless, technology will be seen as one solution, perhaps the most viable solution, while this situation evolves.  I know that I’m ready should we be told to stay at home, and I will be able to travel where ever my headset lets me.

VR for Therapy, Overcoming Loss

One of the aspects of Virtual Reality that makes it so compelling and useful is it’s ability to fool your mind into believing that the simulated experience is real, or real enough.  In the demonstrations I’ve been doing with student’s I have them “Walk the Plank” virtually, and sometimes they have a real visceral reaction.  There were some folks who tried to walk the plank and couldn’t finish, they just could not overcome the fear that they felt.  To them that fear is real, even though the danger is not.

This past week this video kept popping up in my suggested feed and I kept ignoring it.  The video was about a mother who lost their child and was virtually reunited using VR technology.  I avoided watching the video at first, but since it kept popping up I relented and clicked.  To be honest, I found it too emotional and could only skip through.  It’s rather heart breaking, and here it is if you dare, I still haven’t watched the entirety myself.

I’m not going to break down the video, it’s not really my area of expertise, however here’s an article from VR Scout, an outfit my friend Bobby often writes for, that explains this better than I ever could.

If you take away anything from this I think it should be how VR can have a deep emotional impact on people.  At the end of the video, the woman’s daughter turns into a butterfly and flies away.  For someone who is having difficulty letting go, I can imagine that this could be an incredibly effective treatment.  As VR technology progresses I see more and more uses like this.