VR technologies and the potential of immersive storytelling for change

Medical Aid Films explores the latest in virtual and augmented reality

Producing our first 360/VR film back in 2017, our initial steps into immersive media transported viewers into rural Zambia, enabling them to experience the work around our community health screenings in a new way.

More recently, one of our producers, Florence, attended a workshop at the StoryFutures Academy to discover more about developments in VR and immersive projects and how we might utilise the technology in our future films and training.

We asked Florence to share about her experience and how VR could be a useful tool to consider in global health projects:

Medical Aid Films at immersive storytelling workshop

Medical Aid Films Producer Florence, tries on a VR headset at StoryFutures’ immersive storytelling workshop

Florence Corvez Curtis, Producer:

I was excited to attend an immersive workshop at the StoryFutures Academy last month. Funded by the UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Audience of the Future, the workshop was held at the National Film and Television School (NFTS) where I joined twelve other creative media professionals to learn about the value of ‘immersive’ content.

With their Oculus headsets, the participants had a multi-sensory taster of this cutting edge technology, covering Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR) and 360.  From travelling through black holes to an impact documentary on the Yazidis and interactive animated 3D content, the experience was compelling. But some walked away sceptical of VR – with criticisms being that it can be expensive to make and perhaps is not easily accessible just quite yet. But things will change rapidly according to the VR evangelists who know the potential gain for experiential learning

VR is perfect for gamers to enjoy the immersive experience of virtual worlds, but looking around at the various VR offerings there’s also ‘VR for Good’ and ‘VR for Impact’ content evolving rapidly.

Integration of VR technology into global health training can improve the quality and outcomes of global health education programmes by allowing students an experiential learning component

George Shakarishvili, Institute of Global Health

There were applications of this technology that I can see would be very exciting for Medical Aid Films and our partners; such as VR for Understanding, and VR for Emergency response . Another great example is this LIFE programme which prepares health workers for emergencies. You can imagine this could be used creatively for other areas such as VR for Safety and of course VR for Health. It’s also worth noting that VR is being increasingly used for mental health and psychological therapies.

Healthcare workers in low resource countries could reap huge benefits of VR or AR content. Lancet Global Health, notes the difficulties of incorporating experiential learning methods into global health training; it’s not always feasible to deploy global health students to the sites of global health practise. However

VR technology allows educators to bring the global health field into the classroom in a risk-free and cost-efficient way

George Shakarishvili, Institute of Global Health

Although VR productions are currently on the higher end of the budget scale, cross-industry collaborations in this tech space, alongside the increasing accessibility of inexpensive kit which is usable with low bandwidth, means that it’s well worth keeping an eye on VR for Global Health. The varied potential applications of this technology are exciting; having an immersive approach to health education could accelerate the detection of diseases, assist in medical training curriculums or trigger behaviour change in patients.

Can your institution collaborate with us to bring VR or AR to the Global South? 

Whatever your potential use, Medical Aid Films through its London base, is VR ready! For more information or to discuss using immersive technology in your next project, please contact us here .

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