Publishing and Virtual Reality

By Runner1928 (Google Cardboard assembled.jpg) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Runner1928 (Google Cardboard assembled.jpg) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
The New York Times is known for its innovation. Back when I was getting my masters at NYU, I had the opportunity to get a tour of their research facility, and I was impressed. Now, the newspaper is experimenting with journalism and virtual reality, and has already created some compelling content.

According to an article in Pacific Standard, virtual reality journalism is so immersive, it can leave you shaken, and it’s an “experience on demand.” The New York Times delivered 1.2 Google Cardboard viewers to subscribers so they could immersive themselves in a story about three refugee children. And there are many more stories. The point is to be compelling (though journalists must taken into consideration ethics when producing these films), and it’s not just limited to journalism. 

Vice is working on a virtual reality newscast of Sundance. Flickr offers a 360 photo app via Samsung Gear VR powered by Oculus. The New York Times lists multiple use cases. Publisher’s Weekly speculates when book publishers will start to work with virtual reality, perhaps as part of textbook publishing. According to The Bookseller, publishers are continuing to experiment, whether that means adding videos, trying out new markets, or curating content. The key is to iterate and engage the audience, which could very well mean virtual reality.

This could complement print books, as Joe Wikert suggests. It is interesting to think about immersive storytelling coming out of Google’s cardboard pieces.

Google Expeditions at TBS from The Berkeley School on Vimeo.

This kind of immersive storytelling will probably get easier to create, too. Google and GoPro have already teamed up to create a camera that can film 360 degrees. Google may integrate it with Youtube. Google is also an app that lets you take virtual reality photos, according to VR Focus and CNET. It may not be limited to virtual reality either. One of Google’s startups, Magic Leap, recently “filed a patent for augmented reality contact lenses that could potentially change the way we see the world around us,” according to Crave. Augmented reality is when you see your actual surroundings, but also layers on top of that–a few gaming companies have been experimenting with it. According to Bloomberg, Amazon is working on making augmented reality technology available in your living room. And a team of researchers is creating computer simulations of celebrities speaking, to capture a person’s identity and possibly apply that to augmented and virtual reality, according to The Atlantic.

What are some ways book publishers could potentially use virtual reality for storytelling? Please share in the comments!


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