Get ready for 'immersive' news stories, courtesy virtual reality

Professor Andrew Perkis said participatory stories and immersive narratives are just around the corner in the media industry.
Professor Andrew Perkis said participatory stories and immersive narratives are just around the corner in the media industry.

Dubai - Speaking at the WAN-IFRA Middle East Conference event in Dubai, Professor Perkis noted that mobile devices, sensor technologies and display methods such as 3D goggles, augmented reality glasses and light field projectors are opening up new possibilities in terms of conveying information to audiences.



By Bernd Debusmann Jr.

Published: Wed 24 Feb 2016, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Feb 2016, 9:27 AM

In the very-near future, rapidly advancing virtual reality (VR) technology will allow news consumers to immerse themselves in the news and 'experience' it, rather than read about it or watch it on television, according to Professor Andrew Perkis of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
Speaking at the WAN-IFRA Middle East Conference event in Dubai, Professor Perkis noted that mobile devices, sensor technologies and display methods such as 3D goggles, augmented reality glasses and light field projectors are opening up new possibilities in terms of conveying information to audiences.
"We need to find new ways to tell stories. We can tell stories with audio-visuals or text or combinations of all that, but we can engage our users in a more immersive way if we find new ways of telling the story," he said. "That's where virtual reality is important."
Already, various news outlets - including the BBC, USA Today, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal - have experimented with immersion journalism through 360 videos. But, according to Professor Perkis, the technology and its potential uses are still in their infancy.
As an example, Professor Perkis noted that virtual technology can be used as "a subtle add-on" to describe something as seemingly straightforward as a change in oil prices.
"We could use virtual reality to try to explain to people why that is happening. You can use this avenue, in its immature state to really go deep [into the story]," he said. "You can let people go explore for oil themselves at the bottom of the North Sea, or give them insight into how the engineers are actually working, how you find the oil and how it affects our society."
Using motion sensors
Alternatively, Professor Perkis noted that motion sensors can be used to tell stories in public spaces, such as has been already implemented in Trondheim's Installation Park, in which motion sensors are used to activate projectors that tell stories as people move around the area.
"Here in Dubai, you have lots of LED lights, here for some artistic impression. They're very underdeveloped," he told Khaleej Times. "Just imagine what you could do. It would be very simple to have them tell stories. I think it's the perfect place for it."
Professor Perkis said that "participatory stories" and "immersive narratives" will be more and more common in the near future.
"This is just around the corner," he said. "There are a few unsolved problems. As you can imagine, this is like an ethical and moral minefield and that needs to be covered. Also, we need storytellers who want to tell stories."
"This is something new, but there are so many forces that think this is going to be [a reality], that are pushing for it, and that will do it," he added. "The million dollar question is when it will be, but I think it's sooner than you believe."
- bernd@khaleejtimes.com


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