Head First into Virtual Reality

Residents of Pineville interact with VR headsets at the Pineville Brand Launch. | Photo by: Darren Hartwell

On February 26, the brand launch for the town Pineville was held at the local Pineville Elementary School. All the work from the Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 semesters had led to this moment and it wasn’t always a smooth ride. There were plenty of bumps in the road. Our trips to Pineville usually take about three and a half hours; however, during this time around it was closer to six hours due to an accident that closed down one of the only roads into the town. Once we arrived in town things began to start going our way.

The day of the brand launch event we began setting up in the gym in the early evening. We set-up tables in the gym with each table being a different station that community members attending the event could interact with. There was a table about Pineville’s social media, a table for the town’s website, a refreshment table, and my table which was a virtual reality experience with a 360 video of adventures and events that happened in their town.

My work station at the event was an obvious choice since I am the social AR/VR producer for the Pineville Project. Although I am minoring in interactive media design, I am new to the virtual and augmented reality world. However, I had worked with a VR headsets a little before the brand launch event and I still conducted a small amount of research into the topic. There are many things to consider when setting up a VR table for an event:

  • Make sure you have everything you nee and don’t forget the batteries!
  • Check for sanitary eye covers and disinfectant. There were a lot of eyes and hands touching the headset.
  • Make sure there is room for a line to form. Overcrowding and a headset that covers your eyes is usually not a good mix.
  • Lastly, make sure your video is queued up and ready to play on a loop. This helps keep things moving along smoothly.

The headset that we used was the Oculus Go headset, which is one of the top rated and recommended tools for VR. The headsets were easy to use and offered perfect clarity for the 360 videos that played. I was surprised by how popular the table ended up being at the event.

The VR headsets were a hit and attendees of all ages were lining up to try it out, some more than once. It is always incredible to see so many different age groups enjoying and participating in the same activity, and it is even better to see elders successfully using new technology. Almost everyone that tried the headsets either spotted themselves, or friends and family, in the 360 videos. That isn’t that surprising with a small town like Pineville. I am forever thankful that I have been able to be a part of the incredible BrandJRNY experience and be able to get to know a town as special and unique as Pineville.

My name is Madlyn Alqutub, and I am the social AR/VR producer for BrandJRNY’s Pineville Project. I love cats and makeup. Follow me through our journey — @club_tub.