Saturday April 01, 2023

Goethe Institut offers learning through virtual reality experience

By Our Correspondent
February 27, 2023

The Goethe Institut Pakistan has set up a virtual information place at the Alliance Francaise. Named ‘The Infinite Library’, the place offers visitors knowledge on various subjects with a virtual reality (VR) experience.

The library was inaugurated on Thursday by German Consul General Dr Rudiger Lotz and Goethe Insitute Pakistan Director Simone Lenz. Creative director of The Infinite Library Mika Johnson, who is a multimedia artist by profession, said the virtual library was set up by a team of 20 people, including experts in different fields, including Polynesian navigation, European alchemy and South Indian puppetry.

He explained that the library was multi-sensory. “It means that you come to this library and get to have many different experiences through different senses. One of those is video and sounds.”

The visitors can put on headphones and speak to the library, which is based on artificial intelligence. The visitors are able to “intimately connect with the library”, Johnson said, adding that they had taken stories from different periods of time into a virtual space where those things could be experienced.

The library has jars with 3D prints as well. Through a QR code, the library would ask the visitors through a mobile phone application to play a game or explore the house. If the visitor chooses to play games, the library would ask to look for cosmic origins and explain how the cosmic origin started with dust.

The virtual information room would then give details of the origin of our planet some 4.5 billion years ago. Through different periods of evolutionary history, the library tells through the game how asteroids came into being 200 million years back and brought water along with them. It also shares details of cyanobacteria, which was the first form of life that released oxygen into atmosphere.

“The library has all of these stories from our biodiversity,” the creative director said. The library also offers a reproduction of a 60,000-year-old flute. “We associate libraries with actual physical buildings, books or other forms of media,” Johnson said, adding that the Infinite Library was an altogether different form of library where the visitors would put on a VR headset and find themselves in a vast cave. There would be pools of water there and the visitors would float on them to get information about things like cosmic origins and eight phases of moon.

The library, he said, brings together world’s religious and magical traditions along with science and science fiction. He added that he had been a scholar of religious studies and had also read about magical tradition, astrology, alchemy and similar areas.