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Virtual reality in reality: The NY Times app makes a difference

Barbara Krasnoff | Nov. 11, 2015
Offering a compelling and important news feature can turn the Google Cardboard VR viewer from a toy into an important aid to storytelling.

Despite that, during the 11-minute video titled "The Displaced", I was completely enthralled. And it wasn't just the experience of spending 11 minutes being able to looking around at places and scenes in which I'd never been -- although that was a factor. It was because the story that the video was telling mattered to me; I wanted to know about these children and their lives, and the technology made them more real to me than print would have.

How much of a difference will this experiment make? It's hard to say at this point. Virtual reality is developing into a very useful technology for business and manufacturing. And companies like Microsoft are starting to announce upcoming VR entertainment tech (still mostly in development, though).

Which is all to the good. But if VR is also used to make us care about people in other parts of the world -- or about issues that we otherwise might wave away as not concerning us -- then perhaps it can prove to be an even more important technology than we've given it credit for.


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