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A closer look at the rising trend of Virtual Reality Labs

By Dhrubaa Ghosh,

VR Labs are quite a trend among high school and college students now.

The use of virtual reality in teaching proved to be a positive fall-out of the pandemic.

Teachers are having a tough time managing practical classes remotely. But the wide use of Virtual Reality (VR) in teaching is a positive fall-out of the pandemic, and this has helped teachers. One of the most successful implementation of this technology is the VR Lab (VRL).  

What is a VRL?  
It’s exactly what the name suggests: a virtual laboratory environment where students and teachers ‘enter’ when they put on their VR headsets, and work together, though both are at home. Both hybrid and online courses were using it, now regular schools are teaming up with VRL makers and delivering their Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Electronics practical classes through VRLs.  

When did VRLs first come up?  
In 2016, a milestone in the VR industry happened with the launch of the HTC Vive device. This was the first headset that allowed physical movement integration through real-time sensor-based tracking of hands and feet. VRLs have been around since 2019, but the real boom came in 2020-21 with the lockdown.  

Why is the VRL trend so big?  
VRLs have a lot of advantages, so the trend is not a surprise. Here are some of the obvious benefits of using VRLs in school teaching:  

  • Instead of setting up a real lab, an institution or an instructor can complete a virtual set-up of the same equipment in a fraction of the cost, and not worry about maintenance, damage, continuous buying of materials etc. Of course, the VRL service provider will levy updating charges once a year 
  • Machine damage, accidents, wastage of chemicals – all the usual problems of running a students’ lab – are eliminated  
  • Many students can access sophisticated facilities that might have been too expensive for their parents in real life  
  • VRLs have features that favour the interactive teaching–learning process by enhancing zone transparency for the teacher, zooming in to see interesting details for students, modifying the execution speed of a task to go through sub-processes at a slower speed, integrating related insights from the web, and allowing students and teachers to repeat a task as many times as they want 

Given the advantages of VRLs, it seems this trend is here to stay and grow.  

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