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Emerging Technologies Liaison Guide: Virtual Reality and Gaming

Virtual Reality

What can you do with VR/Gaming at the Library?

Gaming? In a library? Yes! Gaming and Virtual/Augmented Reality continue to be an upward trend in academia and industry in general. More and more academics and teachers are incorporating gaming into their lessons, while the creative aspect of the industry continues to grow.  To accommodate that trend, the Belk Library has a Virtual Reality Room that features extensive access to virtual and augmented reality.  Faculty can take their classes to the VR Room to use the equipment, whether there is a specific lesson plan in mind or not. When classes come through, the faculty member has the option of choosing the VR/AR applications that are highlighted, as well as what they would like the students to experience - whether that is simply a demonstration or an activity.  Virtual reality and augmented reality are going to become more important over the next few years, so it is vital that students, faculty and staff have access to the technology that will prepare them for the future.  This guide illustrates what is available, as well as ways to begin developing applications.

For more in-depth information about VR/AR, check out an expansion of this guide:

What is Virtual Reality?

Virtual Reality is the use of software and devices to simulate a 'real world' environment in which the user feels completely immersed.  Often, this includes not just sight, but sound and gestures.  

Examples include:  Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Leap Motion and Google Cardboard. 

Augmented Reality, a mix of real world surroundings and digitally added features, is a similar concept that has become more popular as technology improves.

Examples of augmented reality include:  Microsoft Hololens, the Pokemon Go! app, and the Fetch app for the Structure Sensor (available at the Tech Desk).

HTC Vive

HTC Vive

HTC Vive is a virtual reality system that uses a combination of visual immersion with input from your surroundings.  Equipped with two handheld controllers and two room sensors, the Vive maps the room that you are playing in and adapts the gaming environment to coincide with those parameters.  Assisted by top notch graphics, do everything from learn survival and engineering skills to creating 3D artwork in real time.  The HTC Vive is a comprehensive, exciting way to experience virtual reality!



Interested in developing for the Vive?  The Game Development Room is equipped with Unity in order to create your own games.  Stop by the Inspire Maker Lab or check out some of these resources to get started!

HTC Vive headset HTC Vive logo


The HTC Vive is available in the Game Development Room on the Lower Level of the Belk Library.


Microsoft Hololens

Microsoft Hololens

The Microsoft Hololens is an augmented reality device that combines the surroundings of the user with holographic content.  The Hololens scans the room you are in and then uses that information to interact with graphics from the apps. Created as a stand alone headset, the Hololens has a built in app store which features the original developer applications.  While currently in development, the Hololens is already showing its potential for impact on the real world, from construction apps to an app that allows the recreation of a crime scene.  The Hololens’ augmented reality is the perfect way to apply real life elements to our surroundings.


Interested in developing for the Hololens?  The Game Development Room is equipped to help you bring your apps to life.  In addition, check out these great resources:

Microsoft Hololens Hololens in action


The Microsoft Hololens is available in the Game Development Room on the Lower Level.

Virtual Reality Apps

Google Cardboard

Created for Google Cardboard, this app is a great way to orient users to using VR on their smartphones.  In addition to the cornerstone "Google Cardboard" app, there are plenty of other free apps that will work, through all app stores.



A VR 360 degree video app, Within opens up the opportunities for users to explore different virtual reality environments and works across multiple platforms.  Within is available through STEAM, app stores, and as a web experience.


Gaming Research


Google Cardboard

Google Cardboard

Google Cardboard turns a smartphone into virtual reality goggles. Useful for learning the foundations of virtual reality, the simplicity of Google Cardboard makes it possible for everyone to enjoy, no matter their tech skills.  Learn about everything from the space program to other cultures.  Google Cardboard allows the user to explore the moon or Paris right from the comfort of home, simply by downloading an app.  Check out all of the possibilities of Google Cardboard.


Google Cardboard is available at the Tech Desk.