A VR way of learning

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has title::Using Virtual Reality to Interact with Information
status: ongoing
Master: project within::Human Ambience
Student name: student name::Kim Bosman
Start start date:=2-1-2017
End end date:=7-1-2017
Supervisor: Stefan Schlobach
Thesis: has thesis::Media:Thesis.pdf
Poster: has poster::Media:Posternaam.pdf

Signature supervisor



Through the ages, the way information is represented has changed. Many years ago, humanity started to represent information in the form of cave art. Since then, the representations morphed into hieroglyphs, pictograms, and finally the written text as we know it. The way we interact with written text has changed as well. At the very beginning, documents and books would focus on one specific topic. Around 47 BC, Marcus Terentius Varro showed that books can focus on more than just one topic. His book "Nine Books of Disciplines became the ancestor of the encyclopedias we use nowadays.

This written text morphed once again with the rise of the Internet. Now the information does not require any pen and paper, just a keyboard and a virtual place to note it down. An example of such a virtual place would be Wikipedia, which is the technical equivalent of an encyclopedia. However, not only the written text changed. Over the years, technology has come a long way. An interesting and fairly new development is the introduction of Virtual Reality. Virtual Reality is a technology that allows users to mentally transport themselves into a created environment. This new manner of interaction could have great impact on the manner in which people interact with data as well.

This project attempts to redefine the manner in which people interact with information. Wikipedia for example, contains over more than 5 million pages of textual information. Would people benefit from another way of representing this kind of information? Would people even want that? These questions are all at the center of this project. The main research question will focus its attention to a more general description: "Could Virtual Reality be an alternative way to represent data presented in an online encyclopedia like Wikipedia?"

In order to find an answer to this question, a proof of concept was created. This proof of concept was designed using the game engine Unity. The design choices made in this project were based on extensive research regarding Human-Computer Interaction, User Interfaces, and data visualization.

This proof of concept was evaluated by a total of 10 participants. This evaluation was conducted using questionnaires. Overall, the results were positive, and the participants state that they do see a future for an application like this.