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Civic XR Meetup

On December 10th the Public VR Lab & BostonVR’s held a joint Civic XR Meetup event to learn more about Civic XR, and how technologists are using VR/XR in the public interest.

During the meetup we heard great talks by:

· Craig Herndon CEO Boston VR

· Jennifer Gradecki and Derek Curry from Northeastern University

· Jeff Jacobson from BostonVR and Boston Children’s Hospital

· Laura Schatzkin and Dave Maass, from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)

· Kathy Bisbee, founder of the Public VR Lab



VR/AR Scholarship Fund to Launch at the Public VR Lab

Learn VR & AR at BIG/The Public VR Lab

VR/AR Scholarship

Download and share the VR/AR Scholarship flyer here!

VR/AR Scholarship at the Public VR Lab Launching Seed Round

What: The VR/AR Scholarship at the Public VR Lab is the first of its kind, focused on helping Brookline and greater Boston residents to pursue careers in VR/AR through higher education opportunities to learn about the industry and gain new skills. 

Building on BIG and the Lab’s paid youth job training program on traditional and emerging media training and soft/hard job skills, the XR in the Public Interest Scholarship focuses on underserved youth who are interested in pursuing careers in emerging media as programmers, producers or creative designers. 

 Who: This scholarship fund is for youth ages 17-21, and the applicants will be asked about how they will use their new skills and education to promote inclusion, civic engagement and VR/AR in the public interest. 

The Lab seeks donations from Brookline and Boston residents, regional VR/AR enthusiasts, professionals in the industry, and former participants of the Lab’s programs, Meetup groups, and hackathon attendees to help support the new scholarship program. 

Learn VR & AR at BIG/The Public VR Lab

 Donate: All donations are tax-deductible as BIG is a 501(c)(3) organization.

Donate online or send a check to BIG, 46 Tappan St, Brookline, MA 02445 with “VR/AR Scholarship” in the memo. 

 Apply: Applicants can sign up to be alerted when the application process begins, in Spring of 2019, at or by emailing to get on our alert list for the application period.

Dev Jam & Advanced Unity Class: Saturday, December 8th, 2019

Dev Jam on Saturday, December 8th, at the Public VR Lab

Dev Jam on Saturday, December 8th, at the Public VR Lab

Come join us and HTC’s Dario Laverde for a whole day of creation and collaboration with HTC Vive along with the other AR & VR devs at Brookline Interactive Group (BIG), Public VR Lab and BostonVR.

Register here!

  • 9:30am – Doors open.
  • 10:00am – 12:00pm Dario will teach this two-hour class, Unity Programming for the HTC Vive, Vive Pro, Vive Focus and Vive Trackers, for all who are interested. We strongly recommend that you bring your own laptop for this class.
  • 12:00pm – 9:00pm – We hack! Just invent projects, do tutorials, work on personal projects, etc. It’s OK if you decide to only come to this part of the jam.

During the Dev Jam:

~Dario will be around to mentor you as you work on your projects

~You will have the chance to check out the Vive Pro

~You will also be able to check out the Vive Focus

~This is a “Dev Jam” not a “hackathon”! That means there will be no assigned teams, no assigned project, no judging, no prizes. Just work on anything you want to, with whoever is interested, and have a good time!

~We’ll have plenty of coffee, snacks, and pizza

Boston VR, HTC Vive, and BIG will be providing some Vives, Vive Pros, Vive-Focus, and computers which you can use to work on your projects. But if you have your own gear, please bring it!

Click here for directions, parking is free.


Brookline Interactive Group

46 Tappan Street

3rd Floor

Brookline, MA 02445

View Map

Civic XR Meetup on December 10th, 2018 at the Lab

Civic XR: Creating VR/XR in the public interest!
Civic XR: Creating VR/XR in the public interest!

Civic XR: Creating VR/XR in the public interest!

Civic XR: Using XR in the Public Interest

Join Boston VR & The Public VR Lab on Monday, December 10th from, 5:30-9 pm to demo and hear about ways civic-focused technologists are using VR/XR in the public interest space. Register here:

CivicXR Presenters
Dave Maass, Senior Investigative Researcher at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), from San Francisco, CA who will present on how EFF is protecting our digital rights and demoing Spot the Surveillance, a virtual reality experience that teaches people how to identify the various spying technologies that police may deploy in communities.

Dave Maass is a senior investigative researcher for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, where he covers issues related to police surveillance, criminal justice, free speech, transparency, and government accountability. In addition to deep-dive investigations, Dave coordinates large-scale public records campaigns, advocates on state legislation, and masterminds special projects, such as a science fiction collection and EFF’s first VR project, Spot the Surveillance. Prior to joining EFF, he worked as a reporter for alternative newsweeklies in every state along the U.S.-Mexico border. He is also one of’s correspondents for San Diego Comic-Con.

Kathy Bisbee, founder of the Public VR Lab, will present on how the Lab is building a new field for Community XR, developing a global network of training programs, accessibility, and digital inclusion. The Lab’s facility will host the Meetup, share how users can become members to use free and low-cost VR equipment, and will offer demos of the Lab’s Hubweek-featured immersive installation, Arrival: Immigration in Full Frame,the first national virtual reality (VR) filmmaking project gathering and curating immigration/migration stories of Americans from pre-1620 through 2018 and incorporating them into a visual XR/VR timeline and a curriculum for facilitating community dialogue about immigration/migration at community hubs such as museums, libraries and arts centers across the country.
Other presenters include researchers Jennifer Gradecki and Derek Curry from Northeastern University who created the Crowdsourced Intelligence Agency project designed to engage the public around surveillance and national security issues; Jeff Jacobson from BostonVR and Boston Children’s Hospital; a representative and demos from Planned Parenthood’s VR team, and other interactive audio, 360, and VR/AR developers who are using XR for civic-minded projects and solving public interest problems.
BIG, the Public VR Lab, BostonVR and HTC VIVE are hosting a Dev Jam on Saturday, December 8th, 10am-9pm, the weekend before the meetup, and will be offering special advanced Unity classes with HTC Vive senior developers.
Contact Erin at if you have a civic XR project you’d like to demo at the Meetup!

Kathy Bisbee Presents on Growing the Community VR/XR Field as a Movement

Co-founder, Kathy Bisbee, shares her vision for Community VR/XR at the Alliance for Community Media's Northwest conference in Portland, OR

The Lab’s co-founder and director, Kathy Bisbee, has been presenting at conferences about building an inclusive, accessible field for community-based VR/XR. Join us!

Co-founder, Kathy Bisbee, shares her vision for Community VR/XR at the Alliance for Community Media's Northwest conference in Portland, OR

Public VR Lab co-founder, Kathy Bisbee, shares her vision for Community VR/XR at the Alliance for Community Media Northwest conference in Portland, OR, left, with panel moderator, Sabrina Roach, of Seattle and the ACM national board of directors. 

See and read more her presentations here!


Highlight Reel: United Nations Environment Assembly

Watch our rhythmic highlight reel of our experience bringing VR to the United Nations Environment Assembly just a month ago in Nairobi, Kenya!


New in 2018: Low-cost VR Toolkits in the Public Interest

The Public VR Lab is building a broad network for a Community VR movement that will facilitate public dialogue; provide professional training; empower community knowledge and creation of 360, virtual, and augmented content; provide access to tools, headsets, arcades, toolkits, and professional expertise; and generate locally-focused, broadly-impactful VR experiences in the public interest.

Visit to view current classes, events, training, projects, and VR in the public interest content.

Our VR Demo Toolkit 2017 pricing is as listed below. Use this kit if you want to bring new visitors into your organization by offering free Virtual Reality demos, having the latest technology, and offering classes in VR movement, art, travel and more. Our goal at the Lab is to provide community organizations, schools, local government, libraries and colleges with access to VR equipment.

You can research all of this equipment and information online, or you can quickly benefit from our team’s two years of research to package a VR Toolkit for you and deliver instructions, cables you need and sign up for a training!

One of the largest community media centers in the U.S., Boston Neighborhood Network (BNN), just bought their Toolkit and received a training from BIG and the Public VR Lab. [photo left: BNN staffers; Brett Rodrigues, Susan Conner, and Tomek Doroz.]

We also have a VR Creator’s Toolkit available for journalists, art centers, filmmakers and media makers. This Toolkit is ideal if you want to create VR content using a 360 camera provided in the kit to create immersive news, films, and non-profit organizational videos.

We also provide additional training to bring your immersive storytelling skills up to speed. 

Register for your VR Toolkit Today!

Please fill out this form to get started with your VR Toolkit from the Public VR Lab! Please note training and shipping fees will additional, and will apply based on your location. Our team can also come to you to provide in-person, customized VR Toolkit and content creator training, all based on schedule availability.

Note: We’ll have a regional schedule of upcoming group training should you want to join other organizations for your training in your region. If you’re an educator or journalist, please see our March extended training program

January 2018 Pricing: $2500-5000 (price based on organizational budget and training/camera add-ons as requested)

Testing the Public VR Lab Toolkits

Brookline Interactive’s IT Coordinator, Andrew Doig, and Nir Darom, Lead Creative Designer, test the Lab’s VR Toolkits to be transported to the United Nations to demo VR to world leaders in Nairobi, Kenya. December 2017

Basic VR DEMO Toolkit includes:

  • Pelican Case
  • HTC Vive Headset
  • ACER Laptop
  • 2 Light Stands with swivel tops
  • Deluxe audio headstrap
  • 25-foot HDMI Cable
  • HDMI to Displayport Adapter
  • Steam link
  • Training provided in Brookline, MA
  • Add-ons: VR Demo training; on-site 360 camera training; ongoing technical support

Basic VR CREATOR Toolkit includes:

  • Nikon KeyMission 360 camera
    • 64G MicroSD card
    • 360 Accessory kit (camera bag, tripod, selfie stick, waterproof lens, shock proof case, etc)
  • Pelican Case
  • HTC Vive Headset
  • ACER Laptop
  • 2 Light Stands with swivel tops
  • Deluxe audio headstrap
  • 25-foot HDMI Cable
  • HDMI to Displayport Adapter
  • Steam link
  • Training provided in Brookline, MA
  • Add-ons: VR Demo training; on-site 360 camera training; ongoing technical support


Immersive Storytellers Craft Unique Experiences at the Intersection of Media, Health, Medicine and Scientific Discovery in Boston

The Boston Globe's STAT team, Brookline Interactive Group, and the Public VR Lab teamed up on three 360 films for Hubweek 2017.

[article originally posted on LinkedIn:]

In 2016, Jeff Delviscio, Director, Multimedia and Creative at the Boston Globe’s STAT news team, bumped into the executive director, Kathy Bisbee, of Brookline Interactive Group (BIG), where she was demoing VR to throngs of science journalists and media makers. He wanted to explore how his cutting-edge news team, STAT, focused on finding and telling compelling stories about health, medicine and scientific discovery, could tell compelling stories about medicine and science using 360 video or VR. Kathy had hoped to share BIG’s experience training and creating VR content with other media organizations.

Kathy had co-founded the Public VR Lab as part of her work at Brookline Interactive Group (BIG) an innovative community media center, and was creating AR, VR and 360 content with her team. The Lab had started planting the seeds for what would become “Community VR,” a local and national project and movement that would train journalists, filmmakers, creators, and storycoders to create VR in the public interest, based out of Brookline, MA and trained and collaborated with libraries, arts organizations and journalists. The Lab now has an affiliate program, and offers VR toolkits, equipment and a training program to VR creators, journalists, filmmakers, educators, and municipalities.

Together STAT, BIG and the Public VR Lab collaborated to produce three unique experiences in locations around Boston that resulted in three 360 films introducing Boston residents and viewers worldwide to what it might feel like to work in a high security lab on the Ebola virus in Boston’s NEIDL (National Emerging Infectious Diseases lab); or to better understand the experience of a Tufts Dental School student, and sense intense teamwork of the effective Boston Children’s Hospital’s infant trauma unit. All films were created in 360 video that can be watched online, in a VR headset, or even on your phone, and screened at Boston’s Hubweek in October 2017.

Read more and check out these unique experiences from the team at STAT, Brookline Interactive Group, and the Public VR Lab, written and documented below and online by Hyacinth Empinado, STAT News staffer.

[Team photo at Hubweek: STAT Director, Jeff Delviscio; BIG Lead Creative Designer, Nir Darom; STAT News staffer/editor, Hyacinth Empinado; BIG VR Coordinator, Josh Widdicombe]

What does it look like inside a level-4 biosafety lab? And what does it feel like to be inside an operating room, performing a delicate procedure on a critically ill child?

In the world of science and medicine, places like this are often reserved exclusively for highly trained specialists.

But immersive 360-degree videos can gives us all a better sense for what it’s like to see the world through these specialists’ eyes. In the videos below, originally produced for HUBweek in partnership with Brookline Interactive Group and the Public VR Lab, you can explore these spaces on your own screen. To look around, click on the videos with your mouse and move it in any direction.

Raising Ebola

Research on dangerous pathogens like Ebola takes place inside highly secure biosafety level-4 (BSL-4) labs. Elke Mühlberger, a researcher at the National Emerging Diseases Laboratory at Boston University, takes you as close to Ebola as you’ll ever get and talks about why she thinks of the deadly virus as her pet.

Open Wide

On any given day, rows of fake heads are on the receiving end of whirring drills at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. Mikenah Vega, a fourth-year student, shows us how she preps her head (which she calls “my boyfriend Miguel”) for a day at the simulation clinic, where students learn all about our teeth. 

On any given day, rows of fake heads are on the receiving end of whirring drills at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, where students learn about teeth.

Code Blue

Watch a team of physicians, nurses, and surgeons simulate a high-risk procedure, called ECMO, on a critically ill child during a training session at Boston Children’s Hospital. ECMO is a machine that temporarily takes over a child’s weakened heart and lungs, giving him or her time to heal. To increase the child’s chances of survival, the team has to make every moment count.

About the Public VR Lab

The Public VR Lab facilitates public dialogue; provides professional training; empowers community knowledge and creation of 360, virtual and augmented content; provides access to tools, headsets, arcades, toolkits, and professional expertise; and generates locally-focused, broadly impactful, Next Realities experiences in the public interest.

The Lab has trained immersive journalists, filmmakers, educators and storycoders to use VR/AR/360; offers VR Toolkits of hardware, software and curriculum to nonprofits, arts organizations and libraries; and has collaborated to create VR content, events and training programs with the Boston Globe, the United Nations, Women in Next Realities, Boston VR, the Town of Brookline, and the Northampton Film Festival.

About STAT

STAT is a national publication focused on finding and telling compelling stories about health, medicine and scientific discovery. We produce daily news, investigative articles, and narrative projects in addition to multimedia features. We tell our stories from the places that matter to our reader– research labs, hospitals, executive suites, and political campaigns.

Science & Medicine in FULL Frame

We’re thrilled to announce that Brookline Interactive Group (BIG) and our VR-in-the-Public-Interest project, the Public VR Lab, launched an innovative 360 video/VR immersive journalism collaboration with the #STAT team from the Boston Globe through this Sunday at Hubweek 2017.
BIG trained Boston Globe journalists from the STAT team on immersive storytelling production techniques, working side-by-side with them to create three day-in-the-life 360 experiences of Boston’s science and medical world. 
Come experience the infant trauma unit functioning under pressure at Boston’ s Children’s Hospital, view the activities of a student at Tuft’s Dental School, and watch firsthand how the world’s leading Ebola scientists work in a lab here in Boston to make Ebola “happy” in order to study how it grows and spreads.

Come find us at shipping Container #18 through Sunday!

Exposing New Realities: Immersive, Participatory Art, Games & Storytelling at the 2017 Northampton Film Festival

Immersive in Northampton

Immersive in Northampton(September 21st, 2017, Northampton, Mass.) The Northampton Film Festival will launch its second year of curated immersive content showcasing games, experiences and stories in VR, AR, 360, social media and participatory art-making at the A.P.E  Gallery at 126 Main Street, Northampton, MA on Saturday, September 30th, 2017, from 12-5pm.

This event is free and open to the public on a first-come, first-serve basis.

With the help of five local artists, Exposing Next Realities will be reflected in LIVE art-making throughout the day inside of Google’s Tiltbrush, a 3D tool for creating art inside of VR, by Robert Markey, Laurie Goddard, John Nordell, Gary Smith, and Lyn Sisler.

Local Pioneer Valley artists; Robert Markey, Laurie Goddard, John Nordell, Gary Smith, and Lyn Sisler will take part in LIVE painting inside of Virtual Reality. Attendees will watch Oscar-nominated VR film ‘Pearl’ and experience the immersive journalism piece ‘Across the Line’ about crossing a protest line at abortion clinics.

The 3D art will be preserved for community viewing during and after the festival. The community can also try Tiltbrush and create their own art or participate in collective virtual and “in-real-life” murals, as well as a new sculpting tool called Masterpiece VR that allows multiple artists to create simultaneously inside the same virtual space. The Pioneer Valley Game Developers will again host locally-developed games and experiences.

Boston-based artist Alexander Golob and interactive media artists from the Public VR Lab (co-founded by Brookline Interactive Group and Northampton Community Television) are coordinating interactive murals and art creation, providing the community an opportunity to create their own 3D and social media art through murals composed of hundreds of individual snapchats, #theSnapGallery.

By adding art to their compositions to the snaps with markers, visitors will bridge image-making techniques and traditions with digital age content creation. This interactive project demonstrates how everyone can be an artist and/or an activist, especially when combining voices into something larger than a single person, like a community art installation.

To participate in #theSnapGallery project, send your Snap submission to Alexander Golob  through his Instagram and Facebook pages (@AlexanderGolobArt) and through email (alexandergolobart at

Drop by Immersive @NFF on Saturday to play games with the Pioneer Valley Game group, experience virtual reality, and create art inside of Google’s Tiltbrush VR and Masterpiece VR’s artmaking tool.

Other Featured Immersive Experiences

Zen Parade is a surreal journey through a 360° 3D animated world of living sculptures – A five-minute psychedelic abstract art experience that can be enjoyed anytime to relax and rejuvenate.

In Allumette, you’re an invisible witness to a moving tale of dreams, love, and tragedy, set within a city nestled in the clouds, where a young girl and her mother sell matches that resemble sparklers. Everything goes well at first, but a tragic event completely changes the story’s tone. However, despite the melancholy vibe, it’s still a heartwarming experience.

Pearl is another 360 interactive story that follows a little girl (named Pearl) and her father as they both pursue their dreams. While short, it’s a remarkably powerful and inspiring tale. You’ll watch as Pearl grows on the road with her musician dad, starting off as a bubbly little child. Soon, she transforms into a teenager with a mind of her own and a love of making music. Pearl is an Oscar-nominated story you have to experience in VR in order to witness its full potential.

Across the Line VR ACROSS THE LINE is an immersive VR experience that combines 360 video and computer-generated imaging (CGI) to put viewers in the shoes of a patient entering a health center for a safe and legal abortion.

Tilt Brush is a room scale 3D painting virtual reality application developed and published by Google.

Masterpiece VR is the first art creation tool to feature collaborative functionality, allowing two users to sculpt at once. Four artists can paint and sculpt together simultaneously. That means that you and your friends—regardless of where they are in the world—can make 3D content together in real time.

Immersive Demos: Pioneer Valley Game Developers

VR Jogger | Sick Pixel

Color BlastAR | HitPoint Studios

Vanishing Point | Woodpenny


Public VR Lab