HTC has today announced the first grant recipients in its ‘VR for Impact’ program. Announced back in January, VR for Impact is the HTC Vive’s $10 million USD commitment to drive virtual reality (VR) content and technologies that will increase awareness and create positive impact in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Commemorating Earth Day, HTC Vive has unveiled new projects from three creators with visions for how VR can address the UN’s set of defined goals for the planet, such as “Climate Action” and “Zero Hunger.” These projects include SpaceVR, the first VR satellite launching into space later this year, Tree, a creatively immersive perspective on deforestation, and The Extraordinary Honey Bee, a joint project with Häagen-Dazs, Reach Agency and SPECTACLE to raise awareness about dwindling bee populations.
“We believe virtual reality and the immersive experiences it delivers have the potential to positively impact the biggest challenges that mankind faces,” said Rikard Steiber, President of Viveport, HTC Vive. “We welcome the first VR for Impact grant recipients who will introduce VR as a powerful tool in raising awareness for the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, and what better way to mark Earth Day than to unveil projects with three unique visions for helping the planet.”
SpaceVR is a VR platform which will allow users to experience space through the immersion of VR. Founded in 2015, the team has built the first VR satellite, the Overview 1, which will launch later this year on Space X. Once in orbit, SpaceVR will stream video that users can experience in full virtual reality or as 360-degree video.
“We’re thrilled to be chosen as one of the first participants in HTC Vive’s VR for Impact program,” said Ryan Holmes, CEO of SpaceVR. “We share a vision with Vive that VR and its power to immerse and affect viewers like no other medium can be used to make the world a better place. By launching the first virtual reality satellite, we want to create the most vivid and visceral reminder yet that despite our individual trials and travails, we all live on this same fragile pale blue dot hurtling through space.”
Tree is a critically acclaimed VR experience enhanced by haptic feedback to immerse viewers in the tragic fate that befalls a rainforest tree. The experience brings to light the harrowing realities of deforestation, one of the largest contributors to global warming. Tree is an official selection of Sundance Film Festival New Frontier and Tribeca Film Festival Immersive 2017.
“We are incredibly honored to announce our collaboration with the Vive VR for Impact program, [sic]” said Milica Zec, co-direcotor on Tree and co-founder of New Reality Company. “New Reality shares with VR for Impact a core tenet: that VR storytelling is key to raising awareness for the many challenges facing our earth.”
Added Winslow Porter, co-director on Tree and co-founder of New Reality Company: “The Tree VR experience has incited emotional, empowering reactions among a wide array of viewers. During the final moments of Tree, a number of individuals have cried or shouted while in the headset and vowed afterward to take action. Together with VR for Impact, we want to reach people from all over the world to help make widespread global impact.”
The Extraordinary Honey Bee is a project looking at the alarming rate at which bee populations are falling. Users will shrink down to the size of a bee for a guided VR experience where they learn of the risks bee colonies face and solutions currently being implemented to offset their decline.
“We believe in the transformative and educational power of VR and are excited to use this technology to bring the plight of the honey bee to life,” said Orchid Bertelsen, Nestlé USA Digital Innovation Lead. “We are thrilled to partner with Vive, not only because of their innovative technology and valuable audience, but because of their ideals and shared belief of harnessing the power of VR to drive true impact.”
HTC Vive launched VR for Impact as a multi-year program, and SpaceVR, Tree and The Extraordinary Honey Bee represent the first grants awarded. Additional grant recipients for 2017 will continue to be revealed throughout the year all projects that receive funding by VR for Impact will be available on Viveport, HTC’s app store for VR. VRFocus will keep you updated with all the latest details on the VR for Impact programme.