This post is part of our ongoing SMASH Reflections series, authored by our inaugural class of Fellows.
By Vanina Harel
“What’s VR?” I asked, “and why is everyone talking about it?” Somebody turned to me and said “here, I’ll show you.” I put the headset on and was instantly transported. “I’ve always wanted to dive with whale sharks!” I shrieked.
Experiential media has immense potential and can take different forms. It can be 360° video, computer-generated virtual worlds, games, augmented reality, or a combination of forms. In the context of science, it provides a new opportunity to engage and inspire. So, what is the potential of experiential media and how can we use it in science communication? Here are a few takeaways from the September 20th session.
How is it different from other forms of media?
How can we use it?
So, why aren’t we all using yet?
Anthony Geffen compares the current state of VR to the early days of the iPod: “We had a cool new technology but no music to download for it.” VR is still new and we are still figuring out the rules, but the opportunities are limitless. In 5 to 10 years, we may all have a VR headset at home, at school, and at work. We are not there yet, but immersive storytelling is definitely a new opportunity for powerful science communication and education, and we should embrace it.
About the author: Vanina Harel is a National Geographic Young Explorer and a filmmaker. She has travelled to South Africa and Botswana to produce a short film about rhinoceros conservation, co-produced Chesapeake Villages, a 30-minute documentary that aired on Maryland Public Television, and recently completed a 22-minute documentary film about lagoon conservation in Mauritius.
As the curators of the Science Media Awards Summit in the Hub (SMASH), we believe storytelling is a common thread in our shared human experience, and that new media allows us to convey the wonders of scientific discovery in new and compelling ways.