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Cave Search, Chiang Rai, Thailand - 07 Jul 2018

AR Brings Soccer Team Cave Rescue to Life

The New York Times shows the difficult conditions of the Thai cave rescue by using augmented reality.

The plight of the youth football team trapped in the depths of a cave in Thailand made headlines around the world, with millions waiting to hear the results of the rescue attempt, and near universal rejoicing when they all emerged safely. The New York Times is letting readers get more insight into conditions during the rescue with augmented reality (AR).

The New York Times has created several enhanced articles that include AR to bring the news stories to life, such as an overview on the various Mars exploration missions. The trip into the Thai cave system shows just how hazardous conditions were for rescuers and victims.

“You cannot let your mind slip out of focus, because when you start thinking, ‘I’m going to get stuck,’ that’s when you panic,” said Ruengrit Changkwanyuen, who trekked and dove through Tham Luang Cave to aid the search and rescue of 13 members of the Wild Boars youth soccer team who were trapped inside. “You cannot think about anything else besides the task at hand.”

The rescue team was made up of a combination of Thai Navy SEALs along with civilian volunteers, many of whom were experts climbers and potholers Even with that expertise on hand, the task was daunting. The path to the football team was almost entirely uncharted. Obstacles along the mile and a half journey included a stretch of icy water the length of seven Olympic swimming pools.

Ruengrit said that at one point he had to swim for an hour underwater, with visibility near zero. Rescuers had to inch forward. At one point, the team had to enter a crevice that was so narrow, they needed to detach their oxygen masks and wriggle their way through.

A non-immersive version of the article can be found on the New York Times website, for the AR version, users will need to download the NYTApp, available on iOS and Android devices.

For future coverage of AR content and services, keep checking back with VRFocus.

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