Infinite Possibilities of VR: A Space Geek’s Delight

On deck for The Martian VR Experience @ Sundance Festival’s New Frontier Gateway

I recently checked out several of the virtual reality pieces at the 2016 Sundance Festival as part of the New Frontier Program. At the top of my list was the The Martian VR Experience inside The New Frontier Gateway. The New Frontier program highlights immersive and new forms of story telling.

I hate waiting in lines but made an exception for The Martian VR Experience. I was not going to miss the chance to experience the virtual reality experience of one of the past year’s biggest films.

This experience was fantastic and puts you in the shoes of astronaut, Mark Watney. Without giving away spoilers, this piece was tremendously inspiring for the possibilities of this new medium. The take away for me is VR going to be able to provide compelling space themed experiences to the mainstream public. No six figure ticket required and perhaps much sooner than the space industry intends to provider.

VR could help provide millions of people with realistic, inspiring experiences which will help further seed the potential mass market interest in all things space. Even the people who have no desire to visit space could now be able to get a stronger taste of why space is alluring. It’s not solely the visuals that make it compelling but that you can interact within the environment which adds that extra amazement and fun factor.

Being an ardent space advocate, I envision some of the following VR experiences in the near future.

Image from Wanderers — a short film by Erik Wernquist
  • Traversing over and through one of the other celestial bodies in our solar system.
  • Soaring over the earth from the vantage point of a satellite circling the earth
  • Exploring the archeological site of where the Apollo 11 Eagle landed
  • Experiencing the take off, flight and reentry of a Space X Falcon

Walk In Another’s Shoes

Image from VR piece, Giant, by Milica Zec & Winslow Porter

Immersive experiences can also be transformative experiences. They have the potentially to not only entertain but create a sense of empathy by seeing through the eyes of another. The VR piece Giant by Milca Zec and Winslow Porter drops the viewer into a story about family trapped in an active war zone.

Some ways VR could change the world:

  • Bring society closer together by allowing us to walk in another’s shoes.
  • Students can learn not just by reading and writing but practice engaging
  • New forms of collaboration could emerge

No matter what your opinion is of VR, I’d recommend checking it out to see what all the fuss is about.

Other outstanding VR pieces I experienced include:

Wevr’s the Blu Encouter
In the Presence of Animals by Condition One

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