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Virtual Reality: The ultimate tool for storytelling and sharing your nature excursions

23rd November 2017 Print

Nature and virtual reality seemingly do not have a lot in common. One is an advanced and currently trending technology that immerses the viewer in a lifelike but ultimate unreal scenario, while the other is all about, well, trees, lakes and mountains, fresh air and getting back to the basics. 

While on the surface there is little overlap, the fact of the matter is that some of the most exciting innovations in virtual reality are nature-related applications.

Updating nature vacation memory-sharing 

As beautiful as nature can be, that beauty was not always well-reflected in the mediums used to capture memories and showcase vistas from vacations spent in nature. Upside-down sepia-toned slides, anyone?

Now that not only virtual reality cameras but high-resolution 3D 360-degree virtual reality cameras are commercially available and as easy to use as any camera, families are able to create masterpiece vacation videos that are unparalleled in scope and detail and allow viewers to take in the sights and sounds as though they were right there on vacation as well, minus the bug bites and sunburns. The roar of rapids, wind whistling through the trees and waves crashing on white sand are all captured precisely to be experienced over and over again.

Seeing the natural wonders of the world

It would be nice if everyone who wanted to could travel to Machu Picchu, Niagara Falls, Mount Everest or the Grand Canyon and experience these awe-inspiring sites for themselves, but this is of course far from possible due to time, money and travel constraints as well as physical limitations.

Numerous professional videographers have created jaw-dropping virtual reality tours of the most extraordinary natural sites in the world, allowing anyone to experience the finest details of Incan ruins, the most swooping, soaring vistas of the Amazon and see the world’s most magnificent (not to mention deadly) animals in their natural habitats, all from the comfort of their own home. 

Natural stress relief

In a world that seems to be filled with ever-mounting pressures and skyrocketing rates of anxiety and depression, the solution may be simple: get back to nature. While the solution may be simple, however, making that solution a part of the average person’s life is not. People are just too busy, and cities are too full of concrete and steel.

Thankfully, virtual reality is so far looking as though it could be an accessible and effective solution. Studies have shown that stressed-out subjects had their heart rates return to normal more quickly when viewing 15 minutes of nature scenes in a 3D virtual reality room. It may be that virtual reality nature scenes may become viable therapeutic treatments, or become mainstays in companies hoping to keep their employees healthy and happy. 

Bringing attention to real-world nature conservancy issues

It’s one thing to tell people that overfishing is a global threat or that Caribbean coastlines need to be built up in order to protect against the threat of climate change, and it’s a wholly more effective thing to be able to immerse people in a virtual reality experience that illustrates these dangers, the effects they’re having and the efforts being made to reverse the damage. 

Global conservation group the Nature Conservancy has been releasing a series of 360-degree virtual reality documentaries focusing on issues like the above-mentioned overfishing and Caribbean coastlines, water quality in the Chilean Andes, protecting the endangered Yunnan Golden Monkey, and regenerating Patagonia’s grasslands. This is an awareness campaign people can really, really get into.

Virtual natural reality

They say opposites attract, and that is certainly proving to be true when it comes to the unexpected marriage between virtual reality and nature. Whether it’s improving vacation videography, saving the world’s golden monkeys, relieving stress and anxiety or taking the average person on an unforgettable journey to the natural wonders in the far-flung corners of the earth, VR has something (or many things) to offer everyone.

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