Virtual Reality already offers many possibilities for games, thrill-seekers and those wanting to experience life in another person's shoes. It's the latter that prompted the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to explore the medium for MS Awareness week, and the result is a moving campaign.
Two films by Wieden & Kennedy Portland, which worked with production house Tool and director John X. Carey, allow MS sufferers to re-experience their passions now that the disease has robbed them of the ability to use their body as they used to.
Amy, a longtime professional dancer from NYC, was diagnosed in 1997. She now dances with her wheelchair and choreographs others, but is unable to perform like she once did. In the film, LaTonya Swann, the winner of reality dance show "Born to Dance" winner, performs with a virtual reality camera on her behalf.
The second film features Steve, a surfer from Ocean Beach, CA, who is losing his ability to balance and ride the waves. His friend, professional longboarder Robert "Wingnut" Weaver, goes into the ocean with a VR camera.
The campaign encourages people with MS to share their own videos across social channels with the hashtag #WeAreStrongerThanMS.
"Each person we met was working around their specific symptoms with dignity and passion," Joe Staples, executive creative director at W&K Portland, said in a statement. "But equally, each had at least one action or hobby that they still talked of fondly, something they could no longer do. What became clear as we worked was how VR allowed these people to experience some of the things MS had taken from them."
Oliver Fuselier, managing partner, live action, Tool of North America, added: "We've been working in the VR space for some time now, but this one really hit a chord with us because it very clearly demonstrates the medium's ability to affect human lives in a way we hadn't thought possible before."