Carla Sertin Field Test – VR Breaking News

I had originally wanted to test using 3D scanned images of a room with Mixamo characters in Unity. However, I found an application called CoSpaces.io which allows simple VR scene creation online. My idea was to create simple VR scenes through a smartphone to tell breaking news stories that would allow the viewer to enter the space.

The below video explains what my story idea was and the pros and cons of cospaces.io.

The Issue:

How can journalists mobilize virtual reality for breaking news stories? 360 videos are great, but they don’t allow you to walk through the space and immerse yourself fully.

Equipment:

CoSpaces.io website (accessed through a smartphone). Currently free to use and still in development. It’s an early release.

The Hypothesis:

It’s probably impossible to create high quality virtual reality scenes in a short period of time. As such, I’m going to give myself 20 minutes to create a piece using CoSpaces through my smartphone to simulate the time restraint when reporting on breaking news. I expect the results to reflect the difficulty in creating immersive VR spaces in short periods of time — it will allow me to create a simple representation of a scene in a limited period of time, but won’t allow me to create more complicated scenes.

Results:

It’s definitely a great tool, and the fact that I can use it from my phone (through a web browser) is very useful, but I’m hoping that when they release their mobile app they’ll have an offline version, allowing quicker VR creation in the field without internet access. I don’t think VR will allow us to tell breaking news stories until 3D scanners become easier to use and more powerful (so I can take a few snapshots, or even a video, of a scene and quickly upload it as a 3D space).

My scene was quite simple and didn’t take very long to create, but it lacks the nuance that I could get from an application like Unity. I wouldn’t call this field test a huge success, but cospaces.io is still a good tool and since it’s still under development perhaps I can try this field test again when later versions are released.