Oculus has announced a pilot program to place 100 Rifts and Oculus Ready PCs in 90 libraries throughout the state of California, from the Oregon border down to Mexico. Detailed on the Oculus Blog, the new partnership with the California State Library hopes to highlight the educational potential of VR, as well as provide easy access to VR hardware within the heart of local communities.

“Public libraries provide safe, supportive environments that are available and welcoming to everyone,” says Oculus Education Program Manager Cindy Ball. “They help level the playing field by providing educational opportunities and access to technology that may not be readily available in the community households. Libraries share the love—at scale.”

Using VR for education can be transformative, with the potential to revolutionise the way we teach and learn, but it is still in its early stages, with the prohibitive cost of hardware being a major hurdle for many schools. While Cardboard-based education projects are popular, its capabilities are limited; getting Rift and Touch into libraries is a positive step towards increasing public access and awareness of high-end VR hardware and software. The beauty of this particular pilot program, Oculus says, is that anyone—regardless of class, race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or physical ability—can get their hands on a library card.

“It’s pretty cool to imagine how many people will try VR for the very first time—and have that ‘wow’ moment—in their local libraries,” says Ball. “We hope early access will cause many people to feel excited and empowered to move beyond VR consumption and to ask how they can become creators and innovators.”

While there is a strong distribution of participating libraries from north to south—with the 90 participating locations spanning nearly half of the state’s 184 library jurisdictions—the hope is that the California State Library can fund further expansion beyond the pilot program, which covers less than 10% of California’s more than 1,100 library branches. Discussions are underway with Washington state to potentially launch a similar program in its libraries, and the hope is that momentum continues to build, Oculus says.

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Though their consumer-facing VR operations have been largely focused in the gaming and entertainment sectors, Oculus’ vision for VR has always stretched further, and their recent focus on social VR and bringing the web into VR has clear implications for education.

“Games have been, and will continue to be, a primary market driver for VR,” notes Ball. “By highlighting the educational potential of VR in libraries, Oculus and Facebook are sending a message that games are not our sole focus.”

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  • iThinkMyCatIsAFlea

    “The beauty of this particular pilot program, Oculus says, is that anyone—regardless of class, race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or physical ability—can get their hands on a library card.”

    Does that include immigrants?

    Don’t support Oculus. Oculus defended Palmer when he funded Nimble America.

    Also, Palmer ‘alt-right, Trump-loving, wall builder’ Luckey still makes money from Oculus sales. So think before buying an Oculus headset or Oculus software.
    Thanks for reading.

    • Justos

      Palmer doesnt even work for Oculus anymore. By buying ANYTHING in this world you are lining someones pockets whether directly or indirectly that support trump. Don’t be a fool.

      • iThinkMyCatIsAFlea

        We know Palmer doesn’t work at Oculus Justos, but when Facebook bought Oculus the deal was “comprised of $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook stock”. So Palmer gets a cut of every Oculus headset and/or software sold.

        • Will Cho

          You are aware that 99.99% of elite/corp got there doing something that was wrong(and some very wrong). So technically you shouldn’t buy anything.

    • VirtualBro

      Get the hell out of here, man

      • JonBishop

        And take your stupid cat with you!

    • What’s a polite way to say, “blow me”?

      • kool

        Fellate my member

  • Deathcon1, the original

    …interesting. California again? As if to say California or New York IS the US and the rest of the country doesn’t exist? Or are they just a bunch of poor, nobody’s? Thanks Oculrichpeople

    • kool

      Entitled much? You do know they’re based out of California.

  • David Moheban

    Bet you people be watching porn on the public library VR. More things change the more they stay the same..