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VR Brought the Ocean to Paly

A group of thirty Palo Alto High School students had expected a daily tutorial period. But that converted into an immersive virtual reality experience in the Media Arts Center on Friday.

Students use virtual reality headsets to explore a coral reef in the Media Arts Center on Tuesday.

Erika Woolsey, a marine biologist, was hosted by Paly’s ClimateVision Club. She proferred VR headsets and IMMERSE, a film, which imitates a short underwater in a coral reef, with its ascent and descent.

Woolsey remarked that it has the framework of a dive profile, where one is immersed at first, then has to go down, and get a bottom time, where one can inspect and learn. In the end, there is a rising up in which one comes to know about all the good things that are taking place.

Post Woolsey’s brief presentation on coral reefs and the things that imperil them, some students stayed at the MAC, whilst others left. Those who stayed, keenly queued up to utilise the 12 VR headsets that were available. Junior Miles Breen told that except for being a little unclear, it was sure cool to take a look at what happens during those dives. He went on to say that he was aware of there being issues with the environment and coral bleaching, but that he never knew how far the problem could extend. Woolsey’s speech about 99.9 % of coral being dead with the century coming to a close shocked him.

Woolsey is the CEO of a nonprofit firm, The Hydrous, which focuses on teaching the public on problems related to the ocean. She remarked that IMMERSE is more efficacious at transferring information than more common procedures.

There is a lot of exciting research suggesting that these immersive experiences via 360 and VR when compared to a two-dimensional movie or a lecture can bring about higher interaction and greater empathy. I hope that the use of these media can teleport people to areas that they have never been before. – Erika Woolsey

Senior Galileo Defendi-Cho told that the decision to host the presentation by Woolsey was a comparatively atypical effort.

Defendi-Cho also said that their main goal at ClimateVision Club is to decrease the change in climate by checking carbon emissions; so the presentation was somewhat out-of-the-box for their club in context to oceans, but she thought that it was a unique opportunity. As a singular club, she thinks that this is the most impactful thing they have done.

She opined that using VR gives the user the liberty of not going to the ocean or requiring a certificate of diving.

Defendi-Cho insisted that this experience will assist people, who have never been anywhere close to the ocean, to look at the ocean and gain knowledge about how it feels to be there without actually going there.

Whilst talking about her presentation, Woolsey said that she will put it on online platforms, hopefully on the VIVEPORT and Oculus store. She also aims to bring it into more classrooms by collaborating with National Geographic. She insisted that she wants to take it to several places and that her target is to take a million people on a seemingly real dive.

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