The use and application of virtual reality technologies aren't just changing the way we entertain ourselves, they're also shifting the way in which we see and experience the news.
Progressively journalists are considering virtual reality technology to submerse viewers in a story and give them a real sense of space. The journalist Nonny de la Peña has broken new grounds with this technique; she first created a virtual reality film of a bomb detonating in the heart of Aleppo, Syria in 2014. She worked on this piece in conjunction with the World Economic Forum to try to express to the world the degree of suffering that children in Syria have witnessed.
Since then, other immersive journalistic pieces have emerged, including a VR documentary on the aftermath of the massive earthquake that struck Nepal earlier this year (Watch the devastating aftermath of the Nepal earthquake in VR).
More recently, SmartNews Agency and the Okio Report recently co-produced an immersive journalism piece on the destroyed town of Jisr al-Shughur, Syria, using new VR technologies. The resulting 360⁰ video transports viewers to the devastating scene, truly replicating the feeling of “being there."
Everything that you see, hear and experience has really happened. This video will submerge you into one of the greatest humanitarian tragedies of our era.
Viewers can navigate through the images and explore the remains of the city by controlling the viewing angles and the directions as if they are using Google Maps' street view.
Although a dedicated headset is recommended for an optimally immersive experience, it is not required.
Will virtual reality journalism be sufficient to get people to take action on the world's most pressing issues? Hopefully, it will at least get them thinking.
Check out the Syrian civil war VR video below: