The week I had to explain Virtual Reality (VR) to my Mum




Until recently, I had largely ignored a lot of the commentary around VR.

I’d found it too theoretical, convinced that it was just the talk of the marketing town, not something that at this stage was ready to impact our day-to-day lives.

Then this week happened.

Thursday 31st March 2016

It started when Mark Zuckerberg updated his status with a link to an article written by Michael Abrash, Chief Scientist for Oculus.

He talked about how for the first time, the Oculus Rift VR headset (available to anyone… at a price) will give you, “the deeply convincing sense that you have been teleported to another place”. But more critically, he calls out that “the only way to truly grasp how transformative VR can be is to experience it”.

Luckily, the very next day I did.

Friday 1st April 2016

It wasn’t the high end Oculus Rift that I ended up trying, but the $15 Google Cardboard viewer.

The Google Expeditions team were at my agency, giving us a live demonstration of the work they’re doing with schools by using immersive technology to help revolutionise teaching.

It’s an incredible experience. This $15 piece of cardboard took me to the moon and back, and taught me how Lunar craters occur before catapulting me into Milky Way surrounded by sparkling stars.


The next day, the penny dropped.

Sunday 3rd April

My mother and brother are both primary school teachers, and this technology has the potential to transform the way they teach and the resources by which generations of kids will be educated.

What surprised me the most during my convoluted explanation of VR to my 60+ year old Mum on Skype, was that she totally got it and could see how it would massively benefit her students. She immediately signed up to the VR trials Google are rolling out called the Expeditions Pioneer Programme, and I pray she gets on.

If you know a teacher, get them to sign up here:


Thursday 7th April

Yesterday, one of the first pieces of news I read was Ikea’s foray into VR, meaning the hideous crowded hungover trips to Ikea are over. Instead you can now pop on your headset, stroll around and pick up your Äpplarö drop-leaf table from the comfort of your couch.

Recently, Tourism Australia CMO, Lisa Ronson talked about the power of being able to transport our cold European cousins to our warm sands, and how such an experience can convince travellers to come and try the real thing. Tourism Australia have already dipped their toes into the VR pool with their latest campaigns which utilise immersive 360 degree videos of some of our most iconic locations.


Friday 8th April

If there are two takeaways from my VR filled week above, they’d be:

  1. Experience Virtual Reality – whether it’s using a $15 Google Cardboard or if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on something more fancy, try it, and your mind will start to wonder at the possibilities.
  2. Think about the content experience before the technology – this is something that Ronson also talks to; while the technology is cool, it’s only when it’s truly relevant that it makes an impact. Google’s Expeditions certainly did on me.



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