. 24/7 Space News .
Virtual reality app brings crisis zones closer to home
By Brittany SCHELL
Washington (AFP) Nov 23, 2015

Bombed-out buildings tower overhead, and rubble is piled high in the deserted streets of Syria's onetime economic hub Aleppo. Gunshots can be heard in the distance.

The destruction of four years of civil war is overwhelming -- and then you switch your phone off.

"Welcome to Aleppo" is one of more than a dozen virtual reality videos available on a mobile app launched this month by Los Angeles-based media company RYOT.

The project offers a 360-degree window into the war-torn city, captured with a camera made up of six GoPros, then stitched together to create a full panoramic view of the scene. A Syrian woman narrates a three-minute tour.

Users -- watching on a mobile device or wearing a virtual reality headset -- can shift their viewpoint at will -- looking up, down and even behind them to take in collapsing buildings and ruined streets by moving or tilting their device.

"I've always struggled to show the scale of devastation after a disaster. With virtual reality, you get an opportunity to really see scale and scope," said co-founder Bryn Mooser.

"It brings people directly to far-off places or places in crisis so they can experience firsthand what that looks like."

RYOT's virtual reality app offer viewers a variety of immersive experiences, from post-earthquake Nepal to the US-Mexico border fence, and most recently an up-close look at a migrant camp in Calais, northern France.

Mooser and co-founder David Darg say they hope their virtual reality films will increase awareness and generate money for aid groups working on the ground.

The films include a call for the audience to take action. The Syria film directs users to RYOT.org/Syria, where they can donate to humanitarian organizations.

Oliver Money with the International Rescue Committee, one of the groups linked to the Syria project, said virtual reality could "bridge that divide" between crises and donors.

For IRC and other aid groups, it is a "huge challenge" to keep crises like Syria in the public consciousness, Money said.

"Something that can help bring that home to people in a more immersive way has the potential to be very powerful," Money told AFP.

- VR: fad or here to stay? -

Big-name companies are buying into the power of virtual reality.

Last year, Facebook bought Oculus VR in a deal valued at $2 billion. And the New York Times has released its own virtual reality mobile app, sending more than one million Google Cardboard headsets to subscribers earlier this month.

For a full virtual reality experience, users of VR apps can pair their smartphone with a headset, an option that is more available and affordable than many might think. The Google Cardboard viewers cost as little as $4, and the higher-end Samsung Gear VR is on sale for $99.

RYOT is embracing the technology full-on. Their first effort came six months ago in Nepal. Darg arrived in the country to film less than 48 hours after the quake hit on April 25, with a grapefruit-sized 360-degree camera in his bag.

The resulting four-minute "Nepal Quake Project" was shown at film festivals across the country and helped raise more than $100,000 for humanitarian aid.

"A lot of people took the headset off and were in tears," Darg said.

Darg, who has been responding to disasters for over a decade as a journalist and aid worker, said he thinks virtual reality technology will revolutionize non-fiction storytelling.

"We're able to create that connection in a deeper way, and that is the most exciting thing," Darg said. "Being able to transport someone there -- it's a game-changer."

John Trybus, director of Georgetown University's Center for Social Impact Communication, says while virtual reality has a lot of potential to enhance storytelling, it may not be ready to go mainstream.

"Sight and sound are some of the most powerful human senses, and this technology activates those like nothing else," Trybus said.

"But it's not ready for prime time as a sustainable engagement strategy just yet. For most organizations, the cost is still prohibitive. It takes a lot of power to do it effectively."

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.
SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only


Related Links
Space Technology News - Applications and Research

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
The social and legal complexities of augmented reality
Seattle WA (SPX) Nov 15, 2015
Augmented reality is the enhancement of human perception through overlaying technologies that can expand, annotate and even record the user's moment-to-moment experience. Those designing coming augmented reality systems should make them adaptable to change, resistant to hacking and responsive to the needs of diverse users, according to a white paper by an interdisciplinary group of researchers a ... read more

Gaia's sensors scan a lunar transit

SwRI scientists explain why moon rocks contain fewer volatiles than Earth's

All-female Russian crew starts Moon mission test

Russian moon mission would need 4 Angara-A5V launches

ExoMars prepares to leave Europe for launch site

Tracking down the 'missing' carbon from the Martian atmosphere

Mars to lose its largest moon, Phobos, but gain a ring

Study: Mars to become a ringed planet following death of its moon

The Ins and Outs of NASA's First Launch of SLS and Orion

Aerojet Rocketdyne tapped for spacecraft's crew module propulsion

Brits Aim for the Stars with Big Bucks on Offer to Conquer Final Frontier

XCOR develops Lynx Simulator

China launches Yaogan-29 remote sensing satellite

China's indigenous SatNav performing well after tests

China's scientific satellites to enter uncharted territory

China to launch Dark Matter Satellite in mid-December

Russian-US Space Collaboration Intact Despite Chill in Bilateral Ties

ISS EarthKAM ready for student imaging request

Partners in Science: Private Companies Conduct Valuable Research on the Space Station

SAGE III Leaves Langley for Journey to ISS

Rocket launch demonstrates new capability for testing technologies

Atlas V booster lands at Vandenberg

Vega receives the LISA Pathfinder payload for its December 2 flight

NASA Orders SpaceX Crew Mission to International Space Station

Retro Exo and Its Originators

How DSCOVR Could Help in Exoplanet Hunting

Forming planet observed for first time

UA researchers capture first photo of planet in making

SSL selected to provide new high throughput satellite to Telesat

Satellite Spectrum Is Central To Future Vision For Global Connectivity

Virtual reality app brings crisis zones closer to home

Plant defense as a biotech tool

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.