New gear at UNM’s Centennial Engineering Library lets faculty get high tech

UNM faculty and students now have access to two high-tech communal rooms at the Centennial Library.

One of the new rooms (DEN 2) has a full virtual reality (VR) set, called the HTV VIVE.

The other room (DEN 1) hosts a collection of both Windows and Mac desktop computers equipped with a substantial variety of software.

On Feb. 17, library officials hosted an open house for visitors to obtain a hands-on experience with the rooms and gear, which is all now available to the UNM community. The event featured interactive demonstrations in which participants could either volunteer to test the new VR headset, or simply preview what other users experienced on a separate screen.

These rooms are available to the UNM community during normal library operating hours. Faculty, students and staff can easily reserve the DEN 2 room, set up with the HTC Vive, through the traditional reserve a room portal. UNM faculty are encouraged to try the new technology, particularly the VR equipment, for facilitating classes or presentations.

VR event CEL2

The HTC Vive VR set up.

According to the open house presenters, instructors may find that their students can best learn how to handle the VR technology by playing games. However, the HTC equipment is particularly responsive: the hand controllers provide vibrations and other feedback to user input, and there are typically enough on-screen guides that suggest possible commands. Thus “playing around” with any of the VR programs should help you master the basics of handling the HTC Vive. More demonstrations and workshops can be scheduled with the library on a need-basis, for guests to become more familiar with this new technology.

The DEN 1 computers are available to users on a first-come-first-serve basis, with a 3-hour limit. In order to choose and access any of the available computers at the DEN 1, users must “check-in” by swiping their UNM ID card at the main computer station inside the room. You may also schedule a specific time-slot to use a DEN 1 computer through this check-in system.

The software available for the VR set includes: Google Earth VR, 3D Organon VR Anatomy, and a set of VR games.

The software available for the new computer lab includes:

  • ArcGIS 10.4                        
  • QGIS
  • SPSS
  • NVIVO
  • IPython/Jupyter Notebook
  • Adobe Creative Cloud Suite