An immersive experience can include a wide range of technologies including 360 images and video, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). There is considerable overlap in these definitions so we often use the terms Mixed Reality (MR) or eXtended Reality (XR) to cover the entire range of possibilities.
This guide is intended to present a few examples of these technologies to give you an idea of what each one is and what it looks like. See Penn State’s IMEX Lab for many more examples and resources.
360° Images and Video
360° images and video are captured by special cameras with 2 or more lenses to capture the entire surroundings in every direction at once. These can then viewed from a computer, mobile device or VR headsets. When viewed on a computer the viewer can drag the image around to look in any direction, when consumed in a headset the viewer gets a much more immersive experience and can simply look around. 360° video has been used to create full length movies and documentaries and 360° images are often combined with text and other media to create virtual tours of specific locations. These types of videos and experiences are relatively easy to make with inexpensive equipment and don’t require extensive technical expertise. A simple interactive experience or virtual tour can easily be created using free tools such as Roundme and Kinghtlab’s Scene VR.
- Clouds Over Sidra – an award winning documentary about Syrian refuges in the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan.
- Free Solo – follow Alex Honnold as he climbs El Capitan
- Traveling While Black – documentary about race and racism in the US. (requires Oculus VR headset)
- Mission: ISS – experience life on the International Space Station (requires Oculus VR headset)
- John Ashbury’s House – From Yale Digital Humanities Laboratory
- Religious Diversity in Northampton MA – class projects from students at Smith college documenting religious communities in Northampton
- New England Maker Summit 21 and tour of MakerspaceCT
- Roundme’s website has many great examples of 360° tours and experiences
Augmented Reality (AR)
Augmented Reality generally adds a layer of digitally created media over the real world. Experiences can include pop up windows with more information about a place or object or place an item in your environment such as furniture, animals or art works. Usually a mobile device is used to view the content. The phone’s camera is the lens through which you can see the rea world as well as the digital layers. Some can also be viewed using simple VR headset such as Google Cardboard.
- GeoXplorer – From Washington State Fossett Laboratory for Virtual Planetary Exploration
- View a zemí cohoba stand—one of the most iconic sculptures that survives from the ancestral civilizations in the Americas
- Huge collection of objects from extinct animals to art work can be viewed via the Google Arts and Culture App
Virtual Reality (VR)
Virtual Reality generally refers to fully created digital worlds. These are the most complex and challenging environments to build since every item must be created before it can be viewed or manipulated. Some experiences can be viewed on a computer or mobile device but are generally designed for consumption in a VR headset.
- Nanome – nano scale molecular design and exploration
- Titans of Space – “better than a planetarium” older demo version can be viewed on a computer, no VR headset required
- Anne Frank House – explore the “Secret Annex” of an old office building in Amsterdam where Anne Frank and her family hid for over 2 years
- Notre-Dame de Paris: Journey Back in Time – experience the Notre Dame Cathedral before the fire in 2019
- 3D Organon VR Anatomy – an anatomy lesson in VR
- Mona Lisa: Beyond The Glass – part of the Louvre Museum’s Leonardo da Vinci exhibition which commemorates the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death in France
- Richies’ Plank Experience – a fun introduction to VR
- Beat Saber – fun game in the style of Guitar Hero
- Superhot VR – first person shooter game where time only moves if you do