Today marks the 96th anniversary of the end of the First World War, with traditional remembrance events currently taking place across the globe including Remembrance Day in the UK. This year, as part of its proceedings, the BBC has teamed up with digital design and direction agency BDH to produce a unique virtual reality (VR) smartphone app named War of Words VR, which is compatible with smartphone-based head-mounted displays (HMD) such as Google Cardboard and the Durovis Dive.
War of Words VR is a brief experience that looks at the work of celebrated World War 1 poet and soldier Siegfried Sassoon. The piece specifically focuses on one of his poems entitled The Kiss, which was written shortly before the historic and hellish Battle of the Somme during an army-training course. Users are taken on a short journey that visualises the poem as it is read aloud. According to Sassoon, the poem serves as a metaphor for bayoneting an enemy soldier.
The app is in fact an extract of an upcoming programme titled War of Words: Soldier-Poets of the Somme, which is to be shown in the UK on BBC Two at 21:45 GMT on 15th November 2014, and will be featured on the BBC iPlayer streaming service until 14th December. The programme will take a look at a range of poetry that was written around the time of the Battle of the Somme. Those interested can also see an animated version of The Kiss as part of Seven Poems of The Somme, which is also on iPlayer now.
“Using virtual reality to explore one of the most hard-hitting poems to come out of WW1 really enhances the power of Siegfried Sassoon’s words. We really hope that people, young and old, will find this an illuminating experience to coincide with the BBC’s Remembrance Season,” War of Words: Soldier-Poets of the Somme executive producer Michael Poole said of the app.
War of Words VR is currently available to download for free on Android. An iPhone version of the app is said to be coming soon. Take note that the app will only be available for the next 30 days, so make sure to download it soon. VRFocus will continue to follow any and all applications of VR, reporting back with any further updates.