UN Using Virtual Reality to Create Empathy

Virtual reality (VR) maybe dominated by the videogame industry, but studios and creators around the world have already shown that the medium can be used for so much more than just entertainment. Medical institutions, museums, schools, have all shown how VR can help teach, train and develop, skills and ideas only really possible with an immersive experience. And the United Nations is utilising 360 degree VR experiences to generate empathy within the wealthy elite for areas of the planet that are far more worse off.


Gabo Arora is the new media advisor for the UN and director of a series of documentaries made in collaboration with VR video app VRSE and Vice Media. Two short films have already been created for the series, the first called Clouds Over Sidra involves a young Syrian girl taking viewers on a tour of the Za’atari refugee camp where she lives. The film held its first screening at the World Economic Forum in Davos, being viewed by some of the wealthiest people in the world. The second film made was Waves of Grace follows a young woman named Decontee Davis as she struggles for life amid the Ebola epidemic, reports motherboard.vice.com.

Arora through his previous role as a senior policy advisor for the UN, noticed how the powerful people of the world were vastly disconnected from those less well off. “I think a lot of these people, even when they would go into Za’atari Camp or someplace like that, it’s with an entourage,” said Arora. “I just didn’t feel like they were really, truly understanding what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes, and I think that all of them need to.”

More short VR films are already in production and the films will be available via the VRSE website to view on your desktop, or via smartphone with the Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR head-mounted display (HMD).

VRFocus will continue to follow all the latest announcements regarding VR and report back.