As time passes and those who survived the experience leave us, something of the vitality of history is lost. There is little sense of immediacy in history photography or news reports, and its difficult to get a sense of how it really felt with the cushioning distance of television pictures. Virtual reality (VR) can let people get closer to history in a way no other medium can, such as with the project to re-create the World War II bombing of London in VR.
VR content creators TimeLooper have created a VR recreation of London’s Trafalgar Square, using historical data and World War II experts to make the experience as accurate as possible. Users who don a VR headset are able to see Nazi bombers overhead as raid sirens howl. The team at TimeLooper even used records to find out exactly where the bombs fell, so even the positioning of the explosion is as accurate as they could make it.
Using a smartphone and a Google Cardboard headset, the TimeLooper app allows visitors to London to load the app and visit VR recreations of the Blitz, the Great Fire of London and medieval London. Recreations in New York featuring the construction of the Empire State building, President Washington’s inauguration and the VJ Day celebrations are also available, along with others in Washington D.C, Berlin and the ancient city of Ephesus in Turkey. It’s also possible to view the recreations in augmented reality (AR) mode without using a headset.
Yigit Yigiter, CEO of TimeLooper told Motherboard: “Our premise is what would you see if you could time travel to that time at that location, so you can feel like you’re in the moment.”
“VR is a very emotionally evocative medium,” said Albert “Skip” Rizzo, director of Medical Virtual Reality at University of Southern California. “I think we’re sort of inoculated to seeing news reports,” said Rizzo, a research professor of psychiatry. “Of course everyone sees a news report about a refugee situation … and you feel bad, but it’s not the same as having the experience of being in that environment.”
VRFocus will continue to bring you news of new VR experiences as they becomes available.