It’s often been said that virtual reality is the next big thing in tech. While originally it appeared to be merely an extension for video games, new innovations have made it clear that virtual reality has a serious chance to disrupt the world of technology as we know it. From fashion week to NASA laboratories, the possible applications of virtual reality are seemingly endless.
With an emerging technology on the brink of bursting into the mass market, it’s important to expose kids to what may be one of the biggest fields of innovation in their lifetime. But how can kids get involved with virtual reality?
Gadgets & Toys
While Oculus Rift headsets may be prohibitively expensive for many, there are still ways for kids to experience virtual reality at home. Google Cardboard, which has devices for sale online starting at only $15, is an easy and accessible way for anyone to try virtual reality with the help of their smartphone. Their site even includes instructions on how to build your own VR viewer with common household supplies!
One particularly kid-friendly device is the Mattel View-Master, recently revamped using Cardboard technology. There are several 360-degree experiences for the View-Master that make a great first exposure to virtual reality for kids. From exploring the solar system to navigating the African savanna, the device gives kids a glimpse into the future of immersive learning experiences that may one day be commonplace in the classroom.
Bring it to the Classroom
Virtual reality has tremendous potential to impact the way kids learn. Instead of looking at photos of wildlife in the deep sea, imagine being able to visit the bottom of the ocean and explore it yourself. Instead of learning about ancient cultures in a book, imagine walking through historical sites in real time.
A new initiative by Google, the Expeditions Pioneer Program, aims to make virtual reality experiences accessible to kids in classrooms across the world. They have created more than 100 journeys that will immerse students in entirely new experiences, bringing teachers’ lessons to life. Schools and teachers can sign up to be considered for inclusion in the Expeditions Pioneer Program here, as long as there are six teachers interested in participating. Although space is limited, this is one opportunity you should consider passing along to your kid’s teacher.
Before a kid gets interested in creating their own video game, they usually become an avid gamer. Before wanting to build their own 3D printed figures, kids must be aware of the possibilities that 3D printing technology provides. In order to get kids excited about the potential that virtual reality offers for their lives (and possibly their future careers!), they must learn about innovations happening in the field of virtual reality.
Luckily, virtual reality has been recently making headlines, especially as the release of Oculus Rift shipping deadline approaches. You can get your kid involved by sharing cool stories about virtual reality technology, such as this video about how a VR device can help sick kids experience fun outside of their hospital room. You could even take them to ride one of the new virtual reality rides that are cropping up at theme parks!
Opportunities to expose to kids to virtual reality will only increase as the technology evolves. For example, NASA is working on an ultra-realistic first-person video game about what it would be like to visit Mars. What kid wouldn’t be excited about that?
The Bottom Line
Virtual reality is an exciting new horizon for technological advancements during kids’ lifetimes. Allowing them to experience and learn about virtual reality may spark an interest in them that could lead to a future career in VR technology, or just get them excited about the possibilities that the technology in general offers.