Jay Sigal

Staff Writer

The “Holodeck” may soon be coming to a community college near you.  Greg Little, an associate professor, is at the forefront of a project that is loosely being referenced as an “initiative to bring virtual reality for use in the classroom, to the college and the local community for teaching and training.”

Known generally as “simulation technology”, the purpose of the “Virtual Reality Room”, as it has recently been called, is intended to immerse both individuals and groups of individuals into specific simulated worlds for purposes of training and understanding various kinds of models, i.e., scientific models, engineering models, emergency response models, to seek solutions for difficult issues without exposing the participants to any actual dangers or situations.
    Little said, “In this kind of facility, we could have the opportunity to bring different technologies together to see for example what engineering might do for biology, and what biology might have to offer to art, and what art might have to contribute to firefighting.”

Little explained that in a scaled simulator such as this, programs could be developed to immerse students, as well as practicing doctors and nurses into “emergency first-responder situations, with all manner of life-threatening situations unfolding at once, in the way that they often occur in real life.”

Of course, on a less grand scale, this technology can clearly be used to the benefit of the individual as well. Little said that such immersive “virtual experiences” could be applied to assisting people suffering from certain phobias, such as the fear of getting on board an elevator or speaking in front of large groups of people. These experiences could be created virtually, helping such individuals “get past their fears in a safe and secure environment. It depends on the kinds of software programs that are developed,” he said.

 A facility like this could be on-line rather quickly, as there are vendors available that could have such a space constructed in as little as four days. “The technology already exists,” he said. 

Such a construction consists of “three projection walls and a floor, each being about 10’x10’x14’, and employing four stereo-optics-projectors, all synchronized and projecting a single world. This is already real-world technology,” he said.