Using VR To Cope With the Death of a Loved One

First, I’d like to share a personal story that occurred to me in 2016.

Several years ago I met a woman who worked at a history museum. The young woman and I were demoing to teachers about technology and education and at the end of the night she asked if she could try VR.
“I have to leave shortly so anything under 3 minutes would be good.”
I had her try The Blu and a whale soon swam past her at the bottom of the ocean. She began to cry. I asked if she was ok.
“Yes. Yes, my husband died last year.”
“Oh, were you divers?”
“No, but I could see him there.”
“You saw him there?”
“No…well, not there, but I could see him there.”
“Oh, I see.”
“Could you put him there?”
I hesitated at the magnitude of her request and then made a dangerous type of promise.
“Yes, I could.”
She breathed deeply then sighed and left by saying, “This technology is going to change the world.”

I’ve had many opportunities to run that story back in my mind as I work daily with immersive technologies, the consequences of the promise don’t ever escape me.

YouTube user Sophist contributed this in the comments of the video shared above:

“The fever that 6-year-old (intl. age) Nayeon got one day, didn’t go away even after a week. In the hospital, she got dignosed with blood cancer. Nayeon who was hospitalized in late Summer, couldn’t go home till Fall came.
As she passed away, her mom couldn’t ever let her go. In her mind, her guilt was tremendous, as a mom. she put her photos everywhere she could see. She has always regretted that she couldn’t have better, longer time with her late daughter.

MBC, a Korean media company, picked up this story and started to make a documentary about it, naming it, ‘I Met You’.
They made the VR character based on the videos the family had, which were only a few minutes total. They used 160 cameras on 360°, to get 3D image of Nayeon, by capturing the motions of a number of kids who were in same age with Nayeon. Also to synthesize and restore Nayeon’s voice, they recorded several girls’ voice, and used Nayeon’s voice from the videos as the base, then tried to mix them to make it as similar as Nayeon’s original voice.
The place in VR is Noeul Park (sunset park), which is the mom and the daughter’s favorite place.
This project was to make a ‘good memory’ to the mom and the family, so that she, and they, could relieve their pain and take the guiltiness away from their broken hearts.
After this experience, they say she started to move on.”

This use of VR is powerful, alarming, and hopeful. Our reality is about to be fundamentally altered by technologies that are arriving. We are neither prepared for the magnitude of the shift in consciousness nor can we fathom its ultimate final state. I hope we have the fortitude to know better than our predecessors and use these tools to find peace for one another.

Dennis Bonilla has been a user experience designer, software developer, and digital strategist. Dennis is a co-founder and the Chief Technology Officer at Baltu Technologies. Dennis created Unified Pop Theory with his friends in attempt to bookmark and comment on novel intersections of technology, science, and the arts. Dennis is a trend finder and idea maker who is inspired by individuals that believe the world can be changed one great project at a time. Dennis can be reached on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

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