HTC has announced the first round of winners of its VR for Impact program, which has earmarked US$10 million dollars for VR developers that support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The first funding recipients are SpaceVR, which will let viewers experience outer space from a satellite's point of view, Tree, an interactive haptic-led experience highlighting the realities of deforestation, and The Extraordinary Honey Bee, a feature examining the decline of the honeybee and possible solutions.
The makers of SpaceVR will launch the first VR satellite into space on the Space X shuttle later this year. Upon entering orbit, the satellite will stream footage that can either be watched in full VR or as 360-degree video. In this manner, SpaceVR will provide the kind of first-person experience impossible in the real world.
Tree is a haptic-enhanced VR experience that explores the life and fate of a rainforest tree, elucidating the widespread pattern of deforestation and its impacts on the environment. It is also an official selection of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival New Frontier and Tribeca Film Festival Immersive.
Similarly, The Extraordinary Honey Bee explores the alarming rate at which the honeybee population is dwindling. The guided VR experience increases awareness about the struggles of bee colonies and the solutions currently being vetted to preserve them.
These projects (and all others that receive funding from VR for Impact) will be available through HTC's Viveport store for the Vive once they come to fruition. SpaceVR, Tree and The Extraordinary Honey Bee are only the first three grants awarded as part of the program, which is intended to be a multi-year program with several grants per year. HTC will continue to announce additional recipients for 2017 through the end of the year.
You can check out a peek of The Extraordinary Honey Bee below.