New York, NY – Last year, one of the major digital trends that we were tracking was the VR tipping point. We called it “Virtual Reality is Finally Reality”—the fact that after years of hype and talk, it was finally looking like virtual reality was coming of age and making it’s way into the mainstream. The evidence was coming in from all over. From Facebook’s purchase of Oculus Rift, to Google Cardboard, to the super cheezy cover of Time Magazine.
Well, now there is another big name attached to VR – The New York Times! Last week, the Times announced that they would distributing Google cardboard glasses to subscribers as part of a new collaborative project with Google called NYT VR. All New York Times print subscribers will be receiving a headset in the mail and digital subscribers will get a redeemable code for a free Cardboard viewer.
The first piece of content planned for release under the project is a film entitled “The Displaced” that was created with Chris Milk and his company Vrse. It tells the story of three children—one from South Sudan, one from eastern Ukraine, and one from Syria—that have all been uprooted due to violence and war. The goal is to use the power of VR to let the viewer experience what it is really like to be caught up in the refugee crisis that is taking place all over the world.
This collaboration could mark a very interesting turning point for virtual reality. It has been widely expressed that the technology is poised to start playing a more integral part in dynamic storytelling, and there is no better storyteller than the NY Times. From early adoption of infographics and data visualization to interesting use of multimedia, they’ve always been on the cutting edge. We’ll be watching (with cardboard glasses on!) to see just what they can do with VR.