April 1, 2014 Minneapolis, MN – Third Iron, the library technology company behind the journal reading service BrowZine, announced a significant new venture during the Shifty Paradigms: New Technologies, New Visions conference today.
“Released in 2012, BrowZine was viewed as a leading-edge technology,” said Third Iron co-founder and President John Seguin. “As researchers are increasingly relying on mobile devices, BrowZine has become mainstream and is used by tens of thousands of researchers from over 200 institutions from around the world.”
BrowZine is available for iPads and Android tablets with support for smart phones coming this summer.
“With the smartphone release on schedule,” said co-founder and CTO Karl Becker “we have already set our sights on adapting BrowZine for next-generation technologies.” With this, Becker dramatically pulled a cloth off of a large black headset on a table and placed it on his head.
“Today, we are excited to announce BrowZine Oculus Rift Edition!” exclaimed Seguin.
“This incredible new initiative is another great example of how Third Iron is skating to where the puck is going,” added CEO Kendall Bartsch from the company’s Minnesota offices.
Oculus Rift is a still-in-beta next generation virtual reality headset largely credited with reigniting interest in virtual reality technology.
“Space constraints have long been a concern with many libraries,” said Seguin, a former academic librarian. “What better way for a library to maximize space than with virtual reality?”
Becker illustrated how you could browse for titles across multiple shelves by literally walking down a virtual shelf. Because of some virtual reality-induced vertigo, Seguin guided Becker so he did not lose his balance while “browsing” for journals.
At one point in the demonstration, Becker opened up an article in a popular open access journal related to intestinal diseases, and promptly fainted. Though it is unknown if this was related to the headset or the content, Bartsch mentioned using BrowZine on the Oculus opened up many possibilities.
“The library market is all about innovation in digital technology. Facebook’s recent billion dollar acquisition of Oculus VR gives us great confidence that this technology is here to stay and will eventually touch every part of scholarly research,” said Bartsch. “We are excited to again be ahead of the curve with technologies that support the library community.”
BrowZine Oculus Rift Edition will begin an open beta on April 1 with the product available for order in September of 2014. Registrations for the beta can be made by submitting an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.