I'm a big nerd when it comes to technology, especially when it's the really fun kind. I did a little excited shriek when I saw this immersive VR experience at the Saatchi gallery advertised.
With Pete Trainor
I met Pete digitally a while before I met him in person. He was this cool tech guy and when he first reached out after watching The Big Life Fix I was a little intimidated by his substantial twitter following and impressive knowledge. Now I class him as a friend I know those things aren't what make him special, it's his curiosity and his heart the size of a universe. Pete is the founder of Us AI and author of Hippo.
I’ve dabbled in VR experiences in the past but never done anything immersive. I was excited to try it. 'We Live In An Ocean Of Air' is described as a 'virtual reality experience where the invisible connection between plant and human is revealed through breath. In a 20 minute experience cutting-edge technology illuminates the invisible- but fundamental- connections between human and natural worlds. You'll be transported to an ancient forest and witness the majestic power of the largest organism to ever exist - the giant Sequoia tree'.
We were strapped into a sort of backpack and helmet and sensors were attached to our hands. It became really obvious to me at this point that I wouldn’t have been able to do this with my old neck brace. Another blessing I can count.
We were then let loose in a responsive VR space that started as a forest and developed into more abstract textures. As we breathed we could see our breath and our hands glowed red as oxygen pumped through them. It was very relaxing, the combination of the natural shapes and sound effects made it feel really chilled.
After what felt like 2 minutes but what I was reliably informed was more like 15 we were introduced back into the real world. I could have stayed in there all evening.
We sat and watched the next groups do it for quite a while afterwards. Not only was it therapeutic and calm but it was very interesting to see how people responded to the experience. Some people tentatively stroked the air, others were frenetic. As someone with physical difficulties it was really interesting to know that no one was watching me or could tell that I was shaking but I liked the response the environment had to my tremor.
'We Live In An Ocean Of Air' is at the Saatchi Gallery until 24th February 2019.
'Everyone deserves to be happy, and find their own happiness, but sometimes we neglect it as the pace of life takes over. Today was a really poignant reminder that investing in our own happiness is not just a good thing to do, but an imperative.' Pete.