Virtual reality might seem mind-boggling futuristic technology to some, but one new project uses it to let people get closer to nature. Visitors to Grizedale Forest in the U.K.'s Lake District were able to experience the forest through the eyes of its animals in an immersive VR experience launched at the weekend.
Commissioned by the Abandon Normal Devices (AND) festival together with Forestry Commission England's Forest Art Works, the "In the Eyes of the Animal" project lets users fly above the canopy, come face-to-face with high-definition critters and embody various animals as they explore Grizedale (which is famous for its sculptures.)
Experiential agency Marshmallow Laser Feast built the VR experience via aerial 360 degree drone filming, Lidar (light detection and ranging) scans of the forest and CT scans of the animals, recreating trees and plants as VR entities as well as many creatures. Some animals were captured via a photogrammetry rig and others CT scanned by London's Natural History Museum. Users could also hear sounds from the animals' environment through headphone-delivered audio, and "feel" the sounds with a wearable device that turns the audio vibrations into a tactile experience.
The project was created as a feature of the AND Festival , which took place in Grizedale Forest rom 18-20 Sept. Its aim was to bring together artists, designers, scientists and filmmakers to create artworks, experiences, trails and films that use the newest technology to give visitors fresh sensory perspectives.