Virtual reality isn't just about headsets and sensors—it’s about fundamentally altering the way we perceive our relationship with the digital world and breaking the barriers between what is physical and what is virtual. We live in a physical world with physical people, but increasingly our interactions are mediated through digital means: we find ourselves and others looking down at our apps, at our phones, at our laptops, and so on. Virtual reality challenges that relationship with technology. Instead of interrupting our lives to interact with technology, technology should better understand and accommodate us.
It goes both ways. One way virtual reality blends physical and virtual is by immersing users in the virtual world through head tracking 3D headsets and intuitive, spatially aware controllers which allow the user to experience a different space in a natural way. In the other direction, augmented reality and innovative sensor systems allow computers to better understand the physical environment of the user and use that information to change how they interact with the physical world by providing context sensitive experiences such as holographic interfaces and physical interactivity. With virtual reality, the future is about interacting with technology looking up at the world, not down at a screen.
Extended Reality at Berkeley is a student group dedicated to bringing virtual reality to the campus community. Our club provides students with access to virtual reality equipment and training and charters project teams to explore the applications and implications of virtual reality in diverse fields through research and development. By providing access to hardware and expertise, we aim to lower the barriers to experiencing and developing virtual reality technology. We are partnering with established labs on campus to investigate virtual and augmented reality as tools for robotics control systems, visualization of complex data, and as an interface for the future. We engage with the campus community through public demo days and infosessions.