Back To The Future: What It Feels Like Using A VR Headset For The First Time

As we took our seats on the table in front of each of us were those Virtual Reality headsets and joysticks which till date I had only seen in certain Hollywood science fiction movies.

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In 1999 the Keanu Reeves starrer The Matrix ushered in a cultural milestone for Hollywood with its depiction of a dystopian reality inside a simulated world. 23 years later, I had my first experience with virtual reality on the 18th floor of a plush Mumbai building for the launch of a Web 3.0 initiative. Luckily this simulation did not involve life altering red or blue pills, mechanical monsters or formally dressed assassins in sharp sunglasses.

Photo by Minh Pham on Unsplash

Six of us were ushered into a meeting room with the typical long, rectangular table with adequate number of chairs and a screen at the end. As we took our seats on the table in front of each of us were those Virtual Reality headsets and joysticks which till date I had only seen in certain Hollywood science fiction movies. Luckily technical support people were around to guide us through the process, which included me asking them was I supposed to keep my spectacles on while putting on the headset.

As the headset came on, I was transported to a virtual reality world, in the middle of an ocean. I was floating in midair, surrounded by scattered landmasses. There was a screen nearby with some options to click on, but with no prior experience of handling the joysticks I didn't want to click on some wrong trigger, setting off some sort of mini-Armageddon, after all we had been instructed a while back, 'Do not press those two buttons please'. The only problem was, I had no idea which ones not to press. Ideally, we were to eventually find ourselves in a virtual hall, where we would witness the official launch of the Web 3.0 initiative by TimesPro, its objective being to help learners upskill through cutting-edge programmes in emerging technologies.

However, instead of finding myself there, I was now transported from the ocean to the inside of a spacious, beautifully designed room. In front was a window wall with the view of a hillside waterfall in the distance, to the side were huge couches and behind me was a fireplace. It sort of felt similar to the Tomb Raider video games I would play while back in school, where half the time was spent just wandering into unknown places not knowing how to get to the next stage. Technical support intervened, and finally after a while I was in the hall where the event was to take place. The rest of course involved seeing virtual avatars of those in the room and who had logged in from elsewhere around me, and the announcements of the various courses and roadmap ahead by Anish Srikrishna, CEO, TimesPro and Mohan Silaparasetty, Head, Technology Programs.

But what exactly are these courses all about and what do they offer?

The courses which are now available online are on Web 3.0, Blockchain technology, Cryptocurrencies and Fintech, an initiative by TimesPro to offer future-centric and tech-driven programmes to learners, through the interactive experience in the metaverse. They are a mix of certificate and self-paced programmes on getting started with Web 3.0, Blockchain fundamentals and solidity and Ethereum smart contracts. These programmes have been developed in collaboration with industry and institute partners like Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi, iHub Divyasampark (IIT Roorkee) and India Blockchain Alliance.

The Web 3.0 programmes will focus on learner-centricity and high engagement through case studies, projects, assignments, hackathons, and capstone projects. In addition to core learning, career services such as resume preparation, one-on-one mentoring with industry experts, and expert sessions will be part of the curriculum. The programmes will be delivered through TimesPro's learning management system (LMS).

As per FICCI-EY's 2022 report, Web3.0 is christened as the game-changer for the internet and can add nearly $1.1 trillion to India's GDP by 2032. 1 It also mentions that the metaverse will drastically evolve, lead several disruptions, build consumer experience, and by 2025 have over 50 million avatars in its space.

Speaking at the announcement, Anish Srikrishna, CEO, TimesPro, said, "TimesPro has been investing in emerging technologies and introduced several flagship programmes in Full Stack, Cybersecurity, AI, Big Data, Cloud Computing, and others. Establishing the Web3.0 Centre of Excellence is one major step towards a deeper industry-academia connection and furthering our mission to be at the forefront of the Higher Edtech industry while making excellence in education accessible and affordable."

These programmes will develop a deep understanding of Web 3.0 technologies for learners that are changing the way the world is interacting online. From the origins of Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, its applications, and real-world use cases to a holistic understanding of the programming language used to code smart contracts in many Blockchain projects and even advanced topics such as Web 3.0, Decentralized Finance (DeFi) and Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs), non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and the Metaverse — the courses will act as steppingstones for learners to stay ahead of the curve.

TimesPro, established in 2013, is a Higher EdTech platform dedicated to empowering the career growth of aspiring learners by equipping them with skills to rise in a competitive world. They include employment-oriented early career programmes across BFSI, e-Commerce, and technology sectors; executive education for working professionals in collaboration with premier educational institutions like IIMs and IITs; and organisational learning and development interventions at the corporate level. TimesPro also collaborates with India's leading MNCs across varied sectors to provide upskilling and reskilling solutions to boost employability.