'Virtual Reality: The Future Is Now’ – Café Science on 12 February

An expert from the University of Dundee will discuss the science behind virtual reality and augmented reality and explore what the future holds for these technologies at a Café Science event next week.

Dr Rachel Menzies, Lecturer in Computing at the University, will deliver her talk, entitled, ‘Virtual Reality: The Future Is Now’, at Avery & Co, South Tay Street from 7pm on Monday 12 March. In it, she will discuss how these technologies are used in leisure, medicine, education, art and the military, and how researchers might push the boundaries even further.

On 6 August 1991, the World Wide Web went live across the globe. Almost 27 years later, we can now walk with dinosaurs, build our next BMW and even see how top surgeons perform rare surgeries on the operating table from the comfort of our own home. Despite this, some experts think virtual reality has peaked and will soon decline, something Dr Menzies thinks might not be a bad thing.

“Virtual reality has been struggling to work out its identity for almost a decade,” she said. “In 2010 the first commercially available headset hit the shelves at a cost of $599.99. Initial prototypes made most users experience horrendous motion sickness and the total immersion of VR lacks one crucial element - our human desire to share.

“Augmented reality, on the other hand, allows us to share digital experiences happening right now in the real world. The best example of AR is Pokémon Go! This was so much more than just a game as there were countless stories of life-transforming experiences attached to it. Kids and adults reported losing weight as the game got them outside and talking to each other.

“AR is changing the way we experience the cities and towns we live in and changing the way we teach by allowing professionals to share models and experiences seamlessly. And it’s happening right now.

"VR might be fading into the obscurities of gaming again, but it paved the way for technology that permits people from all walks of life to interact with the world. Right here in Dundee, we already see the positive effect AR is having in allowing disabled users to utilise the power of this technology to engage with the world around them.”

Café Science launched in January 2008 and has attracted over 7000 visitors to its informal discussions led by leading local researchers, allowing the public to learn about the ground-breaking science at the Universities of Dundee and Abertay. 

‘Virtual Reality: The Future Is Now’ takes place at Avery & Co, South Tay Street, from 7pm on Monday 12 March.

The event is free is and open to all. There is no need to book in advance but attendees are advised to arrive early to avoid disappointment.