Wevr said that its virtual reality experience, The Blu, will be displayed at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHMLA).
The immersive adventure makes you feel like you are underwater, exploring the majesty of the ocean and its different habitats. You come face-to-face with some of the most awe-inspiring species on the planet. The VR series was created by Wevr, a Venice, California-based VR studio.
Highlights of the three environments in the 6-minute experience include: an encounter with an 80-foot blue whale as it swims past a sunken ship; a magnificent undersea migration on the edge of a shallow coral reef, with turtles and swarms of jellyfish gliding by, and colorful anemones that react to the guest’s touch; and a deep dive into the an iridescent abyss, where hidden creatures including angler fish and squid appear with the use of a virtual flashlight.
“The museum has integrated technology and multimedia into our newer exhibits and is now exploring ways to enhance digital engagement with the natural world. This iconic deep dive VR experience from Wevr brings us to a new level of interactivity — and our visitors come along for the ride,” said Lori Bettison-Varga, NHMLA director and president, in a statement. “Engaging and inspiring visitors is what we do — and theBlu: An Underwater VR Experience is beautiful, powerful storytelling. It would not surprise me if the next generation of marine biologists — and VR developers — are inspired by this exhibit.”
The Blu: An Underwater VR Experience is directed by Jake Rowell (Call of Duty, Final Fantasy, Superman Returns), and has already been recognized as one of the most iconic room-scale VR experiences to date, being named a Sundance Film Festival 2016 New Frontiers selection.
Wevr’s team consulted with museum scientists during the making of theBlu to help inform the creative process. “TheBlu: An Underwater VR Experience has become an icon in the VR community, and is both immensely engaging and informative. We are delighted that the Natural History Museum is hosting this immersive simulation that we know will captivate visitors of all backgrounds and age groups,” said Wevr cofounder and CEO Neville Spiteri, in a statement.
Visitors to theBlu: An Underwater VR Experience begin their journey in a lounge area inside the museum gallery space, where they are acclimated to the technology ahead amid glowing NHMLA ocean specimens on display and projections of reef footage. They’re then led into five “pods” in the gallery, and assisted as they put on HTC Vive virtual reality headsets. At a seating area nearby, friends and families can watch the action on a monitor that shows the user’s interactive underwater experience streaming in real time.
“Here’s what it’s like, from someone who has done a lot of SCUBA diving: It’s fantastic to see all those underwater creatures, and not be underwater and cold — especially the deep-sea chapter, where you couldn’t even dive in real life,” said Chris Thacker, NHMLA fish curator, in a statement. “Users get an up-close look at the animals, particularly the whale and the turtle, and interact with jellyfish and see how they respond. The experience is scientifically accurate and does a good job of replicating what it’s like underwater, all while you’re just standing there, warm and dry.”
This is a great example of what can be done with the help of virtual reality. There are many civilizations that are lost under the sea. A virtual reality application like this could possibly help people explore what is left of such civilizations under the sea, something that most of the people would never be able to do before. With the combination of the Storytelling, Presence and Gamification fields, which are studied by the Thematic Area 4 of the ViMM project, a great virtual experience can be offered to people in order to be able to explore the lost civilizations under the sea in virtual reality and learn more about them, thus contributing to the preservation of cultural heritage.