Seniors get first crack at testing virtual reality equipment at library


Pat Nicholson can remember playing a popular game called Kick the Can with friends and family when she was younger.

It was something she did for fun and to pass the time.

The 70-year-old Seymour resident stepped into a whole different world when she decided to try out virtual reality equipment Sunday at the Jackson County Public Library in Seymour.

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The equipment is on loan from the state library and is available until November.

Nicholson chose a virtual scene of a witch’s castle, where she met a display of different crystal balls with various powers.

“As children, we played outside, but this is a million miles away from that,” she said. “You could throw fireballs and all sorts of things. Every now and then, there would be a rat that would go by on the floor, which is why I kept my feet up.”

Lola Snyder, head of youth services at the library, said her department decided to give senior citizens the opportunity to try the equipment first.

“We wanted our more senior customers to know that virtual reality does have something to offer them,” she said. “Other than staff, they were the first ones to try it. I think they enjoyed themselves.”

The equipment includes more than 30 different scenarios ranging from being in a castle to riding a roller coaster.

Users hold a remote control in each hand and wear a headset that shows the scene.

“It was so real,” Nicholson said.

All of it is streamed on a computer, and bystanders can watch and see what users see on the computer screen.

“Customers can also come and just watch people explore,” Snyder said. “You can see what the user is seeing on the computer screen, and it can be interesting and sometimes quite funny to watch.”

Snyder said the virtual program takes a little bit of time and practice to fully get comfortable with its use.

“It’s pretty simple once you get the hang of it,” she said.

It wasn’t the first time Nicholson tried out a virtual reality game, either. She said her grandchildren have brought over similar technology that used YouTube.

“It was something the grandkids had me try,” she said. “It was nothing like this. This was wonderful.”

Snyder said the virtual reality program is available for those ages 12 and older and is only available on select Saturdays and Sundays.

“Because of eye development, it should not be used with young children,” she said.

The library also will offer the virtual reality program Sept. 17 and 20 at the Crothersville Library, 120 W. Main St., and Oct. 30 and Nov. 1 at the Medora Library, 27 W. Main St.

Nicholson said while she used much simpler toys and games when she was younger, she thinks what children use nowadays is pretty cool.

“It’s totally amazing,” she said. “People don’t really even realize this is a possibility, and I think they should try it.”

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Want to give virtual reality a shot?

The program is available from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sept. 8 and 22, Oct. 20 and Nov. 3 and 10 and from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sept. 16 and 30, Oct. 14 and Nov. 4 at the Jackson County Public Library, 303 W. Second St., Seymour.

Users must sign up for a time slot by calling the library at 812-522-3412.

Also, it will be Sept. 17 and 20 at the Crothersville Library, 120 W. Main St., and Oct. 30 and Nov. 1 at the Medora Library, 27 W. Main St.


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