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Traer Library adds virtual reality experience

September 7, 2018
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Traer Star-Clipper

Traer residents 13 years and older will be able to experience a canoe trip down the Grand Canyon without leaving the city, take a bus trip down Italy, or slice and dice incoming fruit in a special game all with a new VIVE HTC Virtual Reality (VR) Simulator at the Traer Public Library starting next week.

"The whole system was financed by the Traer Library Foundation, so this came out our regular budget to bring this," Library Director Rosanne Foster said. "The initial idea was to present this to people no longer traveling. My intention was this system would bring more experiences."

Experiences through the VR simulator include an underwater dive to a sunken ship. a canoe trip down the Grand Canyon, an Italian bus trip and using Google Earth to visit streets nearly anywhere around the world available. The system also includes fun games such as Fruit Ninja and a hang gliding island adventure for teens to enjoy by controlling their movements with handheld devices and even the movements of their head. Most games and experiences can be done sitting down, but some do require standing.

Article Photos

Traer Star-Clipper Editor CJ Eilers slices and dices incoming fruit in a game called “Fruit Ninja.” Naturally, he had a high score in ths game.

"Google Earth VR is really cool because you walk down the streets of any town if it's been recorded," Foster said. "To be able to pick out Barcelona, Spain and see everything there, or visit the Eiffel Tower, you really feel like you're there. I do want to appeal to the teens too with the games."

But with any new pieces of equipment comes learning about how to use it. While a tutorial exists for the system itself, learning all the games and experience took time.

"We've been trying to figure out every game because they don't have written instructions," Foster said. "We have to figure out which buttons to hit. One of the board members suggested we ask a high school kid to do it way faster. Caleb DeBoef figured out things that took me weeks in minutes. We hope he'll be here some days to help us teach the teens."

DeBoef's mother is on the library board and realized he'd be able to figure it out. While he'd never worked with VR before, he explained how excited he was to learn and then teach others.

"I think it's awesome," DeBoef said. "It's something you have to see to believe how real it feels to you. It's cool to have this even in a small town and great for kids."

Over two hours one day, DeBoef learned the settings and controls of all the games and experiences the library had at the time. Through a special rental program, the library will get five new games/experiences every so often and can choose to keep them or find others to try. DeBoef will keep up with these games and be available to teach them to kids. The hours the high school senior logs in will count towards his Silver Cord award given for volunteer hours at Commencement in May.

Before anyone considers taking a stab at the VR games and experiences, note that health risks are involved with their realistic play. Children under 13 years old will not be allowed to use the VR system.

"If you're prone to motion sickness, you will have a problem with certain programs," Foster said. "We had one person got on and had motion sickness in 30 seconds. You do get a real sensation from some of these games and programs."

The Vive will be available starting September 10 for teens every second Monday of the month from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Community Room during Professional Inservice for the North Tama faculty. Adults may use the system every other Thursday starting September 13. More dates may be added if demand is high enough. Sessions for games will last 10-15 minutes each to accommodate all who want to play. For more information, call the Traer Public Library (319) 478-2180.



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