New York Times Subscribers Getting Google Cardboard

20 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

New York Times Gives Away One Million Virtual Reality Viewers for New App.

The New York Times will send one million virtual reality (VR) viewers to the subscribers of its print edition next month to promote its new NYT VR initiative. On Tuesday morning, the company announced a partnership with Google GOOG -2.58% that will send a million of its readers free virtual reality headsets, on which they can watch VR films that the Times has made. The app, which will be available for both iPhones and Android phones, will debut with a video about refugee children that was produced in conjunction with VR studio VRSE.

NYT VR’s first project is titled “The Displaced” and focuses on three children—across South Sudan, eastern Ukraine, and Syria—whose lives are “uprooted by war,” according to the Times. If the rise of new media players such as Snapchat and Periscope have taught us anything, however, it is that all bets are off when it comes to the future of media, and that being a giant in one medium is no longer enough. The Guardian notes that other newspapers in the U.S. and Europe have tried to embellish their storytelling with virtual reality, but that “the cost of devices made by companies such as Oculus” has made it difficult to do so. In addition to that, members of the Times Insider loyalty program and an unspecified number of digital subscribers will get promotional codes via email that they can redeem for a Google Cardboard viewer. By delivering cheap headsets to its subscribers, the Times is ensuring that interested parties can check out its new content with no hassle—and that those who don’t receive a Cardboard headset can feasibly purchase or make one if they so desire.

Unlike more expensive VR headsets like the Oculus Rift, which look like scuba diving masks and incorporate VR screens, the Google Cardboard device is simply a piece of cardboard that turns any smartphone into a virtual reality headset. But Cardboard potentially reaching millions of consumers by the end of this year, the cheap headset has clearly helped Google to take a lead in virtual reality. Virtual reality usually involves computer-generated imagery that simulates a real-world event, or video that allows the viewer to move around and change their viewpoint, while “augmented reality” superimposes virtual objects or events on real-world imagery. “The power of VR is that it gives the viewer a unique sense of empathic connection to people and events,” Silverstein said in a prepared statement. “In the context of international reporting and conflict reporting, where our readers rely on us to bring them news and stories from remote and inaccessible places, this has huge potential.” As part of the project, the Times developed a VR app in collaboration with the virtual reality studio IM360 that will be free and available for download in both the Google Play and iOS App Stores beginning November 5. A number of filmmakers and journalists such as Nonny de la Pena have been exploring what VR can do for journalism, with projects that look at news events like the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. and allow viewers to walk through a re-enactment of the event.

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