One of the U.S.’s most iconic newspapers, The New York Times, has stepped into the world of virtual reality (VR). Through its Times Magazine, the company will be launching a new app and its first step into virtual reality, giving readers free Google cardboard viewers. They hope to offer “a new form of storytelling”.
Paid subscribers can download the app and use it along with the viewers, or add to the experience by using headphones, which “simulates richly immersive scenes” and offers a 360-degree view.
For its virtual reality debut, The Times tells the story of three children displaced by war and persecution – 12 year old Hana from Syria, 9 year old Chuol from South Sudan, and 11 year old Oleg from eastern Ukraine. The multimedia documentary includes text, photo essays, and of course, the virtual-reality film.
Waiting in the wings is a Times produced virtual-reality film called Walking New York, which it has produced in conjunction with the French artist JR.
Jake Silverstein, editor of The Times Magazine, says, “This new filmmaking technology enables an uncanny feeling of connection with people whose lives are far from our own.”
The newspaper, which distributed the free Google Cardboard VR viewers today, says the accompanying app can be downloaded on both iPhone and Android. The viewers normally retail for $30.
Earlier this month, YouTube unveiled 360-degree virtual reality videos and a virtual movie theater, viewable with the Google Cardboard headset. These are currently restricted to use through YouTube’s Android app, but will soon be available on iOS. In a statement, YouTube says its aim is to “democratize virtual reality and bring VR to everybody, no matter who you are or what your favorite piece of content is. Virtual reality makes the experience of being there even more awesome and immersive.”
Looks like The Times is looking to get in on that too.