The New York Times has taken up a new project with Google on virtual reality. On November 7 or later, depending on when your copy of The New York Times is delivered, the tech giant's low-cost Google Cardboard virtual reality viewer will be handed out as well, providing subscribers with a virtual lens that promises to change how they experience the biggest stories.
The New York Times is launching the NYT VR program along with Google. The popular newspaper has started to develop virtual reality films that are said to allow readers to directly experience the impact and reality of the news they see printed on their news. Virtual reality is a new form of media and subscribers will no doubt be interested in what the carefully crafted movies available for the Google Cardboard are all about. While those who receive print copies of the Times in the mail will have a free Google Cardboard waiting for them after the November 7 weekend, readers with Times Insider subscriptions as well as a selection of other members will be given a code that makes them eligible for a free virtual reality headset as well.
The first movie developed for the NYT VR program is named "The Displaced." The film presents three children from South Sudan, eastern Ukraine, and Syria, and presents their lives as they experience a global refugee crisis. The children are the victims of unrelenting warfare and are forced to give up where they've always lived to find safety. The Times hopes that by releasing the film with the NYT VR project its readers will connect with the story far more than if only traditional text was used. "The power of VR is that it gives the viewer a unique sense of empathic connection to people and events," said The New York Times' editor in chief Jake Silverstein.
The free NYT VR app will be available for both Android and iOS devices as long as they are updated to at least Android 4.3 or iOS 8. The Google Cardboard compatible video will be streamed directly from the app and those without a VR headset will be able to enjoy 360-degree video. Look for the app in the Google Play Store or Apple's App Store on November 5. Virtual reality is now showing its ability to alter the traditional formats we've come to rely on and is allowing us to explore new ways of communicating events with one another. It's telling that one of the oldest forms of media is promoting VR, and in the future I would expect to see the Times stronger because of it.