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Online Release of Data Visualization Tools in Partnership with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Brookline Interactive Group, The Public VR Lab and Datavized Technologies

Brookline Interactive Group (BIG), The Public VR Lab and Datavized Technologies are pleased to announce the public launch of “There’s Something in the Air” a VR data visualization experience exploring air pollution and global data over time around the globe that was presented at the United Nations Environmental Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya in December 2017.

PRESS RELEASE  MAR 22, 2018 09:00 EDT

(BROOKLINE, Mass., March 22, 2018) Launching March 22nd online and in virtual reality, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Brookline Interactive Group (BIG), The Public VR Lab, and Datavized Technologies are pleased to announce the public launch of “There’s Something in the Air,” a VR data visualization experience exploring air pollution and global data over time around the globe. The public launch coincides with the official launch of Datavized’s closed beta platform at the Data for Development Festival, the inaugural gathering of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data in Bristol, March 21-23 and will be on view in the VR Data Play Space along with access to Datavized software tools and at the festival and the Bristol Data Dive on March 23.

The visualization, powered by Datavized WebVR software, was presented by the Public VR Lab’s team at the third session of the United Nations Environment Assembly “Towards a Pollution-Free Planet” of the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) in Nairobi, Kenya on Dec. 4-6, 2017 to 800-1000 UNEA delegates, volunteers, NGOs, students, businesses, activists and world leaders, helping them to experience and understand environmental data stories in a new way.

The collaborative project was spearheaded by the UNEP, Brookline Interactive Group, The Public VR Lab, The EcoLearn Project, and Datavized Technologies to demonstrate how VR can create a paradigm shift to a more hands-on, visceral understanding of environmental issues through immersive data storytelling, and the physical sense of presence and increased empathy that VR provides. “There’s Something in the Air” presents estimates of air pollution based on fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and mean annual exposure by country every five years from 1990-2010 and yearly between 2010 and 2015. Data sources include the Health Effects Institute – State of Global Air.

“We want to inspire local communities to craft their own collaborative, immersive storytelling and visual data experiences, and to then be able to share their experiences and data with other communities around the world, with compelling, visceral and visual storytelling around critical issues in the public interest.”

-KATHY BISBEE, CO-FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AT THE PUBLIC VR LAB

“The response of over 800 UNEA delegates and world leaders was absolute raw delight and enthusiasm for their experience of virtual reality. From the seven-year-old environmental activist, Sasha Bennett, to Ibrahim Thiaw, Assistant Secretary-General at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), all remarked how very real and impactful their virtual reality experience was,” added Ms. Bisbee.

For the past two years the Public VR Lab has provided free community VR demos, launched a VR Academy teaching six different ways to create XR content, and began creating VR/AR experiences in the public interest, working with artists, local museums, education, arts and technical organizations, and with local government. The Lab is training the next generation of creators and environmental educators through a high school job training program, the VR Ecohack, a hackathon focused on mentoring new storycoders, and supporting immersive journalism projects like their collaboration with the Boston Globe’s STAT news team.

In 2018 the Lab launched a national collaborative VR filmmaking project on American immigration/migration stories with 15 community-based filmmakers and organizations from Alaska to Philadelphia, called Immigration in Full Frame. With the goal of accessibility in mind, the Lab recently began providing low-cost VR Demos & Creator Toolkits to libraries, schools, arts organizations, filmmakers, universities, governments, and other cultural organizations to build their capacity to demo VR, create local content, and to show that VR can be accessible and used in the public interest.

“There’s Something in the Air” features a customized visualization of the Datavized software tools scheduled to be released in 2018. Datavized immersive visualization technology, built on the WebVR API, enables users with efficient, easy-to-use, three-dimensional geospatial templates for mapping global, national and city data visualizations. The startup, headquartered in New York, is currently expanding its closed beta program working with pilot partners in industries including government, business, education, transportation, mapping, statistics and sustainable development. Business and individual users can sign up to request access to the beta platform through datavized.com.

“This experience demonstrates how big data and VR can be used together to create an immersive environment for increased understanding and enhanced communication of real-world challenges. We are delighted Datavized geospatial software products and mapping technologies are being used as powerful tools for environmental education, awareness and impact,” Debra Anderson, co-founder and chief strategy officer, Datavized Technologies Inc.

The experience is viewable on any connected device at https://demo.datavized.com/somethingintheair, including mobile, desktop, tablet and in VR through WebVR browsers, including in the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, Google Daydream, Google Cardboard and Microsoft Windows Mixed Reality headsets. For details on WebVR browsers and supported platforms, visit webvr.rocks.

“The data collected and experienced through this pioneering VR initiative will inform policymakers on the status of air pollution in their respective constituencies worldwide. We, at UN Environment, hope that this VR experience will help expedite the implementation of the recommendations in the resolution approved at the Third UN Environment Assembly,” said Cristian Mazzei, special assistant to the director of the ecosystem division of the United Nations Environmental Programme.

“The experience we created together represents a new frontier in environmental education, uniting the possibilities of new technologies with the urgency of crises such as air pollution. The leaders exposed to this tool gain a new understanding of the issue, and also an understanding of how emerging technologies can add a vital dimension to education,” said Nir Darom, lead creative designer at the Public VR Lab.

Nir Darom, Lead Creative Designer at the Public VR Lab with the Ibrahim Thiaw, Assistant Secretary-General at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), partner, Amy Kamarainen from EcoMOVE, and Public VR Lab Co-founder/BIG Director, Kathy Bisbee.

Nir Darom, Lead Creative Designer at the Public VR Lab with the Ibrahim Thiaw, Assistant Secretary-General at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), partner, Amy Kamarainen from EcoMOVE, and Public VR Lab Co-founder/BIG Director, Kathy Bisbee.

About Brookline Interactive Group (BIG):

Brookline Interactive Group (BIG) is an integrated media and technology education center and a community media hub for Brookline, Massachusetts and the region. BIG facilitates diverse community dialogue, incubates and funds hyperlocal storytelling, arts, journalism and technology projects, and serves over 500 youth and adults annually through innovative classes and partnerships. BIG offers extensive multimedia training, VR, AR and 360-video cameras and training, access to high-quality filmmaking equipment, production grants, artists’ residencies, and provides low-cost professional media services to nonprofit organizations, education partners, businesses, and to local government.

About The Public VR Lab

The Public VR Lab, a project of Brookline Interactive Group, is building a global network for a Community VR/XR movement that facilitates public dialogue; provides professional training; empowers community knowledge and creation of 360, virtual and augmented content; offers access to tools, headsets, arcades, toolkits, and professional expertise; and generates locally-focused, broadly impactful, XR experiences in the public interest. www.publicvrlab.com

About Datavized Technologies

Datavized is an immersive visualization platform that makes it easy to turn complex data into fully interactive web experiences. Datavized’s geodata software products provide users with web-based drag and drop tools to effortlessly turn location data in spreadsheets into fully interactive 3D maps for enhanced spatial analysis, visualization and decision making. Datavized works on all platforms and connected devices; including desktop, mobile, tablet, and with virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality headsets, enabling users to tell immersive data-driven stories. Datavized Technologies Inc is currently in closed beta and is headquartered in New York. datavized.com

About EcoLearn

EcoLearn is an educational research group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education that explores the use of immersive technologies to support learning about the complexity of ecosystems. EcoMUVE and EcoMOBILE are two products that are freely available for download and use. EcoMOBILE uses mobile devices and augmented reality to infuse real environments with digital resources that engage, inspire and educate people about the complexities of the natural systems that sustain us. ecolearn.gse.harvard.edu

Stay Connected:

datavized.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/datavized

publicvrlab.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/publicvrlab

Media Relations

www.publicvrlab.com

Brookline Interactive Group (BIG) / Public VR Lab

Kathy Bisbee

kathy at brooklineinteractive.org

datavized.com

Datavized Technologies Inc

Debra Anderson

contact at datavized.com

Categories: High TechnologyEnvironmental, VR, XR, WebVR

Tags: Brookline Interactive Groupdata visualizationDatavizedDebra AndersonenvironmentKathy BisbeeNir DaromPublic VR Labunited nationsvirtual realityVR storytellingWebVR

Additional Links

 

The Public VR Lab at the United Nations Environment Assembly

Hello from Nairobi, Kenya! Yesterday I met and interviewed Sasha Bennett, a seven-year-old Kenyan environmentalist who has planted 320 trees! @SashaBennettKEso .  She was a delight, an inspiration and so fun to spend time with, and hopefully tomorrow, she’ll get her dream of meeting President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya! We’re hoping he’ll also stop by to try to virtual reality at our booth!

[photo top left: Co-founder/Director, Kathy Bisbee, with Sasha]

We’ve been here in Kenya just 72 hours and we’ve learned so much! Like how fun it is to meet people from all over our planet who are committed to protecting our earth.

We’ve been reminded that VR is still so mystical and magical to people from all over the world, when trying it for the first time, and about how hungry people are to find ways to use technology for good, to tell stories, to educate and inspire for global change. We’ve watched as people try VR and find it so real they peel the headsets off, scream and laugh with delight, and in two cases, thought that it might even provide one with X-ray vision!

We’re very pleased to be introducing VR to new users, to world environmental leaders, to youth, to students, to seniors, diplomats, and NGOs, and help them consider ways they could bring Community VR to their countries. More soon about our partnerships on this project, the collaborations we are forming, and ways to become part of the Public VR Lab!

In the meantime, If you’d like to become an affiliate of the Public VR Lab or learn more about how to work to bring VR to in your country or community, please email our co-founder and director, Kathy Bisbee at the Public VR Lab and Brookline Interactive Group (BIG): kathy@brooklineinteractive.org.

[photo top right: Co-founder, Al Williams, demos VR experiences at UNEA to delegates.]

[photo left: Nir Darom, Lead Creative Designer at the Public VR Lab with the Ibrahim Thiaw, Assistant Secretary-General at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), partner, Amy Kamarainen from EcoMOVE, and Lab Director, Kathy Bisbee.]

[right bottom photo: Kathy, Andrew, Nir and Amy after we finished showing VR to the wonderful Susie Kitchens – UK permanent representative to UN in Nairobi and Cheryl Case head of UK delegation to UNEA.] @susiekitchens

 

 

 

 

Building a Community VR Movement: The Lab Featured in MIT’s Immerse Publication

The Co-founder and Director of the Public VR Lab, Kathy Bisbee, was one of several immersive storytelling thought leaders featured in a recent MIT publication, Immerse, in an article about Who is VR for? Kathy shares her expertise and thoughts about building a national movement for Community VR, a phrase she’s used to describing how community media and place0-based arts organizations can develop to create hyperlocal immersive stories, games, journalism, and experiences in VR by collaborating, co-funding, and partnering with media outlets, municipalities, libraries, community media arts organizations, film festivals, and universities.

https://immerse.news/who-is-vr-for-20b3f077a912

 

 

Virtual Reality (VR) in the Public Interest….

Tomorrow we’re driving down to Games for Change in NYC. As usual, I’m thinking about VR-in-the-public interest and how we can differentiate gaming from the many other ways we can learn, share, create and teach VR. At the Public VR Lab, we’ve been teaching our community and beyond for over a year now to use new tools and equipment for community storytelling, immersive journalism, and documentary filmmaking in order to heal from trauma and to create awareness and action around the health of our planet. Here’s a few of this week’s highlights and resources we’ve seen so far in the space.

On the content creation side, our team is learning how we can deploy content, trainings and toolkits to our members, community of media makers and to share with other colleagues. While this may seem something drawn from the 1992 novel “Snow Crash” and its “metaverse,” it means the beginning of public creation tools and a door to many new social, creative and possibly economic platforms/spaces that are sure to follow for an almost ready VR-ready world. This might be the closest thing to Dreamweaver for VR that we’ve seen to date. P.S Snow Crash is a must-read.

Start Building Your VR Second Life in Sansar

Empathy-producing content can help us to understand what it is like to “be” a tree, or understand what it might be like to be in the body of another, and to feel “presence” that helps you to put yourself outside of your own experience. Feeling empathy inside of VR can even move us to action on issues like social and environmental justice in the “real” world.

VR-related technologies can help shape beautiful new ways we see ourselves, our current reality, and can shift our perception of what truth and reality are. VR can help us experience and understand many things from visceral perspectives that embody the experience of the “other.”

Tree, is a virtual-reality project that transforms you into a rainforest tree. With your arms as branches and your body as the trunk, you’ll experience the tree’s growth from a seedling into its fullest form and witness its fate firsthand. Tree elevates the concept of empathy in VR, helping the participant understand what it’s like to be a tree in the Amazon. I particularly love the redwood version of this created by Marshmallow Laser Feast (I so love this name!) with a haptic feedback vest that makes you feel like you are entering inside the tree. 

And this project, RIOT  whose filmmaker, Karen Palmer, will speak at our favorite festival for storytelling, the Future of Storytelling in NYC this October. According to FOST, she was inspired by the events in Ferguson, MO, following the shooting of Michael Brown, and created RIOT, an emotionally responsive, live-action film that uses AI and machine learning through facial recognition to allow participants to navigate though a dangerous riot. Palmer’s work challenges participants to understand other people’s lived experiences, and represents a powerful development in the emerging field of neurogames.

Another area of VR-in-the-public interest growth is in the health sector, and how VR can make us “think” differently and even heal from trauma. This New York Times had a great story today about the use of VR by therapists to heal patients from the fear and trauma of car accidents, the fear of heights, flying, spiders, PTSD, and other forms of anxiety and stress.

And lastly, the team at the Public VR Lab sat in on an insightful VRARA webinar a few weeks ago hosted with Robert Scoble as he shared his always intriguing insights about where tech and VR in particular is headed (here). Check it out!

Gateway Arts Visits the Public VR Lab

We’ve been super busy this month at the Public VR Lab and Brookline Interactive Group.

We’re hiring a new Assistant Director, have several summer multimedia programs (aka “camps”) for kids, launched new VR classes for adults, and co-coordinated Crowdsourced Boston to get ten other community media centers involved in re-creating Back to the Future! BIG’s talented members won three awards at the Alliance for Community Media‘s national Hometown Awards, and BIG won Best Public Access Station in the country! Woot!

We are laying our plans for our fall eleven-day film sprint, curating the immersive content and LIVE VR ART at the Northampton Film Festival for their September 27-October 1st, 2017 fest, in collaboration with our sister organization, Northampton Community Television (NCTV).

We’re launching a national collaborative on a VR project around immigration stories, and an affiliate program will be announced soon so that libraries, teen centers, arts and cultural organizations and media centers can learn to share VR with their communities, have the equipment and training they need to start a Lab on site and engage their communities in a conversation about the future of 3D computing!

Our VR demos are weekly, and recently we had Lead Boston, Brookline High School math camps, and the Gateway Arts program stop by for a tour and VR demos at the Lab.

Check out the cool vid of their folks playing for the first time in VR above!

 

Hopes & Dreams 2017: A Community Storytelling Project in Virtual Reality

(Brookline, Mass., June 1st , 2017) The first publicly-funded virtual reality lab in the U.S. has launched a participatory virtual reality (VR) campaign titled Hopes & Dreams. The project allows viewers to access community-based stories inside a virtual reality headset, on the web and via mobile.

One goal of the Public VR Lab and this project is to reduce the barriers to entry and show that virtual reality content creation can be easily created and shared on 3D web sites using WebVR and the programming language A-Frame, an open source tool created by Mozilla.

Kathy Bisbee, co-founder of the Public VR Lab, said that the accessibility to mass media, and gaining access to equipment and training are issues that traditional community media and VR share, “The Hopes & Dreams project and WebVR help lower the barriers to entry in the virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) space bringing new creators and storytellers into our community media centers to use our 360 cameras, and take classes in mixed reality content creation.”

“VR/AR is still in its nascent stages, but it’s growing fast. Many creators and storytellers don’t have the technical tools or the new skills required for this new industry,” citing the need for public accessibility to be part of the VR conversation.“

Nir Darom, BIG’s lead creative designer shared how the storytelling works in VR: “In the Hopes and Dreams project we wanted to let viewers feel as though they were right there, inside the circle of people sharing their hopes and dreams. Once you’re inside the circle, whoever you visually “click on” begins talking. This immediacy is what makes VR such a great documentary tool.”

When Fasility’s co-founders heard about the Public VR Lab’s mission, they knew WebVR and A-Frame would be a natural fit. “WebVR has the power to transform human storytelling,” said Kathy Trogolo, Fasility’s CEO. “Creators and storytellers are sharing something precious. Thanks to VR, their words and emotions are almost as impactful as they would be in person; plus, the interactive experience allows the viewer to pause and reflect on the content more deeply. The Public VR Lab and the Hopes & Dreams project is a perfect match with our mission to empower authors to create 3D immersive and interactive webspaces.”

Top five reasons WebVR is a key to the future of accessibility in VR/AR

  1. Works on the smartphone you already have in your hand
  2. Anyone can be an author – no expensive software or hardware needed
  3. Incorporates browser’s built-in accessibility features
  4. Works across mobile, desktop, and VR equipment like HTC Vive and Oculus Rift
  5. No app store!

Learn more about using WebVR to create virtual reality content at the free Boston Meetup at the Public VR Lab on June 8th, 2017 in Brookline, MA. Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/web-vr-and-you-tickets-34548544627

To view the Hopes and Dreams Virtual Reality project, visit the site below: http://brooklineinteractive.org/had

About the Public VR Lab

@PublicVRLab

www.publicvrlab.com

Over the past year the Lab has demoed over 90 virtual reality experiences at senior and teen centers, offered free bi-weekly VR sessions at its Boston-area labs, curated interactive content for film festivals, launched a VR Academy with free and low-cost classes, organized a regional virtual reality hackathon focused on climate change, and created the first private-public partnership for two location-based augmented reality community storytelling projects.  

In its second year, the Lab is building on its long tradition of public access television, to provide increased accessibility and digital inclusion with an immersive media grant program, and teaching specialized classes at their low-cost VR Academy to support the production of experiential storytelling, immersive journalism, storytelling in games, and new forms of artistic expression in the public sphere.

About Fasility

@fasility_vr

http://fasility.com/

Fasility is a WebVR consultancy focused on education and user empowerment. Fasility helps their clients create web-based VR experiences that are easy to navigate, impactful, and play back on desktop, cardboard, and high-end VR devices. Established in 2016, Fasility prioritizes design, human factors, and interoperability to reach broad and inclusive audiences. Through studio projects and customized training, Fasility is bringing the power of VR to everyday content creators.

What Do You Want to Create at the Public VR Lab?

We need your help in developing the Public VR Lab! Click here to fill out our survey and earn a chance to win an Eco Dot or win a free Public VR Lab membership!

Thanks for your help in developing the Public VR Lab! Become a member and make amazing immersive media!

2017 VR Ecohack Highlight Reel

First Augmented Reality Location-Based Storytelling Project Launches about Boston Marathon Memories  

Last week the Brookline Hub wrote a story about our cutting-edge Boston Marathon Moments project, a collaboration to gather and share community stories in augmented reality (AR) with Traces, a startup founded by London-based neuroscientist, Beau Lotto. Read the story here:

http://brookline.wickedlocal.com/article/20160526/NEWS/160527132
Runners and spectators can add their own stories before, during, or after Marathon Monday through the Traces app, found at Traces.io. Along the marathon route on Beacon Street, near Coolidge Corner and Washington Square, spectators and visitors can use the app to view the stories floating through the air along Beacon Street, waiting to be discovered, caught, and read/watched.

BIG is partnering with Traces to create original local content to be placed around Brookline and the surrounding communities in the app, which community members can then view. Bisbee is interested in sharing and expanding this project, hoping next year to have each town along the marathon route involved in creating and sharing their stories along the Boston Marathon miles through their towns. Initially, this project will focus on the Boston Marathon route as it winds through two miles of Beacon Street in Brookline.

[Above: Our favorite Brookline runner’s Marathon Moment (so far!) that will be shared in augmented reality (AR) through the Traces app.]

To participate through the production studios at BIG, one can sign up to come in to BIG on a Tuesday evening or Wednesday afternoon to briefly talk about their marathon memories, which could range from a yearly tradition, standout memory, or even their thoughts on this famous event. Participating will take no more than 30 minutes. BIG will professionally film, edit, and produce a brief video for each participant, and then place their story along the marathon route in Brookline. Alternatively, anyone in the Boston area and on Marathon Monday can add stories directly through the Traces.io app to the “Marathon Moments” storytelling campaign.

To learn more and sign up for a time to film your marathon moment or to learn how to use the Augmented Reality app, please visit https://brooklineinteractive.org/marathon-moments/. For questions, please contact Erin Kinney at erin at brooklineinteractive.org.