Virtual reality is headed to the library. Oculus is teaming up with dozens of California libraries to give patrons greater access to virtual reality technology. The tech company is sending out 100 Rift headsets as well as Oculus Ready PCs to 90 California libraries (about half of the state’s 184 library systems), along with compatible educational games and software.
VR devices—like the Rift, which usually sells for about $500—can be used to go inside the reporting of The New York Times, to explore the world of James Joyce, and possibly, according to preliminary research, to help people get over fears like arachnophobia.
Many libraries already serve as places for people to get access to technology they might not have at home, including laptops, WiFi hot spots, GoPro video cameras, and musical instruments. Adding virtual reality headsets to the mix isn’t so unexpected.
The California pilot is part of a national project called VARLibraries trying to make virtual and augmented reality technology available in libraries.
Of course, Oculus can benefit, too. If people really like using their library’s VR headset, they might buy one for themselves, and chances are, they’ll choose Oculus over one of the other companies vying for VR dominance right now.