VR has received a lot of praise for having the potential to change how we approach many issues. Previously there has been a discussion about it’s potential to deal with mental illness. HTC has gone a step further in trying to push the potential for doing good with VR. The company has announced the creation of a program for developers who want to create experiences that drive awareness of global issues. Issues like Global Warming, famine and gender disparity are all on the cards.
VR For Impact
VR for impact, which is the name HTC has chosen for the program, has US$10million (S$14million) in funds available. To be eligible, developers need to design something that promotes one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. So, for example, if you are making a program which educates users about the need for clean energy, or eliminating global poverty, you are eligible for some funding. However, HTC won’t be the one making contact with the developers.
The UN certainly appears to appreciate this initiative. Corinne Woods, Director of Communication for the World Food Program, says, “There are millions of untold stories in every crisis, especially on the front lines where much of our work takes place. HTC’s support of new ways to tell important stories, and help in shaping innovation for the UN’s sustainable development agenda, will build on the impact of our work and take it in new and exciting directions.”
Cher Wang, Chairwoman and CEO, HTC, is quoted as saying, “The potential for Virtual Reality to help us learn, understand, and transform the world is limitless. VR for Impact is a challenge to the VR community and content developers across the globe to help drive awareness and to solve the biggest challenges of mankind.”
The potential for good
Cynical readers would probably not see the value in this kind of fund. After all, this fund is not being made available for those actually trying to combat these issues. However, there is plenty of evidence that awareness campaigns are effective. Furthermore, plenty of entertainment has helped raise vital awareness for significant issues. For example, Pixar’s Inside Out is credited with helping raise awareness for clinical depression. VR’s ability to increase immersion into a virtual world would seem like the perfect tool to help raise awareness.
HTC has only just launched the campaign. Whether or not there will be any success is yet to be seen. Either way, this is an excellent incentive for VR developers. Coincidentally, this is also an excellent endorsement of VR.