An introduction to VR, with a cardboard viewer and five downloadable environments to sample.
Copious safety precautions and instructions—first for downloading the requisite smartphone app, then for assembling and using the viewer (incorporating said smartphone)—lead off this title. Following this, basic explanations of how virtual worlds are designed and rendered are interspersed with pages constructed around scannable links to 3-D views of dinosaurs, gladiators, volcanoes, pond life, and the International Space Station. In between these pages is further information on the technology behind VR and its uses. Users navigate the virtual worlds by physically turning their heads (or their whole bodies) and “pointing” their viewers at dots strewn about the vistas. Pausing at these marked points in each environment opens up alternate views or triggers a few lines of streaming informational snippets, read by an impersonal narrator; these reinforce without duplicating text on the equivalent printed pages but sometimes go off on tangents—with multiple mentions of toilets and waste on the ISS, for instance, and T. Rex coprolites (or, as the narrator mispronounces it, “corprolites”). The virtual worlds are modeled with decent realism but are so grainy that exploring them for more than a few minutes at a time (the precautions recommend 15, but even that may be pushing it) courts eyestrain. With but rare exceptions the human children and researchers in the photos are white.
A brave but labored effort, too crude and piecemeal to do more than hint at this new tech’s potential. (stickers, index) (Informational novelty. 10-12)