- Author: Wendy Powers
The year 2020 is almost behind us! We made it through a crazy, crazy year that, in 2019, might have seemed like some sort of virtual reality game. There is a lot to be said for just having survived it. Fortunately, despite the ups and downs, UC ANR more than survived, budget aside, we thrived. We learned that we could do what was previously considered infeasible. Partners continue to recognize our contributions. Recently, Spectrum News highlighted Niamh's work tracking coyote-human interactions, and educating professionals and local leaders on how to control coyotes. The need for more farm advisors across the state, and in the Salinas Valley in particular, was called out. Donor numbers are up remarkably, and donations followed. UC ANR personnel were honored with numerous prestigious awards. And, perhaps most important for 2020, as a whole, we have remained safe by exhibiting science-based behaviors. Let us all keep the going as we head into 2021.
A high point for me over the last week was taking a virtual tour of Ricardo's art exhibit. I have noted his talent previously and consider myself immensely fortunate to have one of his paintings in my office. I encourage all to take a trip through the art gallery. Not only did I learn more about Ricardo's emotional journey through 2020 and the meaning of color, I discovered through this augmented reality adventure, that Ricardo's talents extend into the foray of creating an augmented reality experience. I also notice that Ricardo does a great job titling and signing his work, something I was recently chastised for not doing (again) on one of my own projects. The recipient proceeded to accept the gift, but insist that I create and send a label for it.
I have been thinking quite a bit about virtual reality and augmented reality, trying to determine the differences in applications, tools and skill needed for creation. Simply put, Augmented Reality builds on what is real by adding digital elements while Virtual Reality shuts out the physical world. Ricardo's exhibit and my recent virtual try-on of eyeglasses are examples of Augmented Reality. In a scenario where I slay dragons, restore world order, and then ride off on my unicorn – that's Virtual Reality. Augmented Reality experiences can be created using a cell phone, like that of the art exhibit. Imagine the reach and impact our programming could have if we provided user experiences using Augmented Reality? Consider if a grower could logon to their computer and take a stroll through an almond orchard. At the end of a row of trees, the grower is greeted by Jhalendra Rijal who shares best practices for implementing mating disruption techniques to protect against Navel Orange Worm. The grower continues along a path and is met by Blake Sanden and David Haviland who are discussing irrigation research findings as key components of optimizing production while minimizing pest conditions. Perhaps there are options in the orchard visit to ‘choose your own topic' and you meet different scientists based on the path chosen. Similar experiences could be developed for growing a home garden – sort of a ‘plant along with me' approach, food preservation techniques, youth education, firewise landscaping….The possibilities are endless.
There is so much to look forward to in 2021. Some things didn't happen in 2020 – I couldn't see Saturn or Jupiter last night. But there is time in the future to address those things – the planets will be aligned again in 2080. In some cases, needs and priorities have changed and 2020 provided the backdrop to reveal what is most important. No matter how crazy 2020 was, the reality of it all provided one thing for sure – I wasn't bored.