Korean Company Creates VR Version of Daughter for Grieving Mother
Sometimes a story comes along that makes your heart stand still. A story by Kyle Melnik for vrscout.com about an unusual use for a Virtual Reality program did that this week.
It’s a story about a grieving mother and how a broadcasting company used VR to bring her daughter back to life in a world where haptic gloves even allow the mother to touch her daughter’s avatar.
Though VR and haptic gloves have been around for several years, developers continue to improve on the experiences they provide. Now teamed with AI production magic, the company digitally created a very human experience that would have been impossible even 10 years ago.
This week South Korean-based television and radio network Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation released a clip from their special documentary I Met You showing how the company used VR and haptic feedback technology to reunite Jang Ji-sung with her seven-year-old daughter, Nayeon, who passed away as a result of a rare incurable disease back in 2016. And although the interactions are simple and the experience itself is brief, the virtual reunion clearly has a significant emotional impact on the grieving mother of four.
The 10-minute clip shows Jang Ji-sung at the center of a large green screen studio wearing an HTC Vive Pro headset and what appears to be a pair of haptic gloves equipped with Vive Trackers. In VR, however, the mother is standing face-to-face with a carefully-constructed 3D avatar of Nayeon. As the digital model appears from around a corner, Jang immediately breaks down in tears as she reaches out to embrace her lost child. It’s an incredibly moving scene, one made all the more impactful thanks to the realistic movements of virtual Nayeon.
According to Aju Business Daily, the production team toiled for eight months to bring Nayeon’s image and voice to life in VR.
However, when I first read the piece and watched the video clip below, I felt it was a little creepy. But a second read and watching the full 10-minute video made me see the value to so many, for many different reasons.
Melnik’s article has many heart-squeezing details about the AI driven video processing and the mother’s comments after experiencing the visit with her daughter’s avatar.
Melnik finished up with:
“Though the technology used in this project is still in its relative infancy, it’s abundantly clear just how powerful VR can be when used by the right team for the right cause. Harnessing the power of various immersive hardware, MBC made the dreams of one grieving mother a reality. If that’s not the sign of revolutionary technology, I’m not sure what is.”
read more at vrscout.com