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Virtual reality offers the tantalizing prospect of visiting remote locations from the comfort of your home — but it also has educational and scientific applications, as a collaboration between Google and Labster illustrates. Building on a brief May announcement, the companies today confirmed that Daydream users can start to access some of over 30 “virtual labs” under development by Labster, enabling students to conduct unlimited science experiments without actually using lab resources.

Their collaboration offers a cost- and time-effective way for students to spend more time in laboratories, a requirement for many science degrees. Rather than burning the midnight oil — and school supplies — in an actual lab, students can learn about equipment and run experiments in virtual environments.

Unlike physical labs at schools, which may be limited in the expensive equipment they can afford, Labster’s virtual labs include modern tools, such as DNA sequencers, and microscopes that actually work. The list of VR experiences includes an electron transport chain simulation, cytogenetics, cellular respiration, RNA extraction, gene expression, viral gene therapy, a confocal microscope, invertebrate modeling, and gene regulation — some of which feature game-like human interactions within the labs.

If you’re a Daydream or Lenovo Mirage Solo user who wants to check out the VR labs’ capabilities for yourself, you can try a free sample Labster Daydream app here. The full experience is an educational package that will be licensed and distributed by educational institutions.

Labster says that over 10 schools are initially supporting the Daydream VR experience, including Arizona State University, the University of Texas at San Antonio, and McMaster University. Additional colleges in the U.S. and Europe are also expected to begin using the service. Schools interested in licensing the virtual labs can reach out here.


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