REWIND collaborated with the BBC Science, BBC Learning and BBC Digital Storytelling to create an epic 15-minute immersive virtual reality experience: Home – A VR Spacewalk. The immersive nature of the experience means that users will really get to feel what it’s like to be an astronaut floating 250 miles above earth with stunning and vast views of the spaceship, the space station and the universe.
Home maintains the BBC’s long history of innovation in how it informs, educates and entertains. VR at the BBC is about exploration and understanding the new medium and its audience. Home has led the way, both inside and out of the BBC, in exploring not just the technology, but the emerging language of storytelling in the medium.
The experience is developed in Unreal Engine 4 to push for the highest possible visual fidelity and is accompanied with treated, spatial audio. The team worked with script writer Marco Crivellari to develop the narrative and consulted with ESA experts and astronauts. The experience encompasses randomised views of the earth and atmospheric phenomenon. The ISS was constructed using a Haynes Manual – the most detailed and accurate plan you can find – and built to real-world scale.
At events, Bluetooth heart rate monitors feed back into the experience, recreating the sound of your own heartbeat. This is combined with an integrated live mic for the user that is acoustically treated and delivered back into the experience. The ambient sound is spatial and creates the claustrophobia of the astronaut’s helmet and the unnerving sounds of your own body and your space suit’s life support system. A gaming chair is also used to provide haptic feedback. Finally, for selected live viewings, a live voice actor is incorporated, who is able to ad-lib on the script, conversing with the player and observing and responding to their predicament.
Tom Burton, head of interactive and virtual reality for BBC Studios and director of Home – A VR Spacewalk, says: “Home represents the very best of the BBC, bringing brilliant creative together with cutting-edge technologies to create an experience you wouldn’t get anywhere else. Making this experience available to those who have the devices will give people a taste of what it must be like to visit the International Space Station and walk in space for real.”
“Over the past five years of working at the forefront of virtual reality, our stand-out piece of content has always been Home. Using a powerful narrative alongside immersive technology, it entertains and delights audiences. It has also been considered “as close as it gets to being in space” by NASA astronaut Nicole Stott, and now Tim Peake has given it the thumbs up! We are very proud of what Home has already achieved, and now with the release, we hope it continues to encourage and enhance the public’s interest in space.”
Sol Rogers, CEO and Founder of REWIND:VR
“With Home: A VR Spacewalk, REWIND is opening and exciting our senses to the emerging possibilities of interactive storytelling. By combining a compelling narrative with multisensory technologies like haptics and biofeedback, it delivers a truly immersive, powerful and unforgettable experience.”
Charles Melcher, Founder & Director of the Future of StoryTelling Summit
Home: A VR Spacewalk is now available on the Oculus Store and Steam.