This blog entry is tinged with a little sadness.

This last week I was able to visit the St David’s Hospice in Newport, South Wales. It’s a truly fabulous site and blew me away with the quality of not only the accommodation, but also the facilities. For anyone who needs respite or palliative care, I can think of very few places that match this.

So why the sadness, well that stems from how far technology has come in just a few years and how engaged my father would have been with it if he was still with us. My father died from a combination of Dementia and Cancer.  He’d been a mechanic throughout his life and always had a keen interest in photography and latterly video. The advent of 360 Virtual Reality (vr) appearing just two years after his death.  Since vr’s arrival development of this new media continues apace. Just this past week I discovered a function that allows for images and audio to be playing together, such that a user cannot only experience the stimuli of 360 images but also ambient sounds and/or narration. Combine this with image hot spots and the viewer is now pretty much in control of their destination.

The scope for this immersive engagement is quite literally shattering. For palliative care, people who would previously have been confined to watching TV or looking at images on a tablet, can now enjoy a unique virtual reality experience. They can take an emotional journey to where they would like to go.

These and other developments are truly positive steps that I am always interested to explore. I am aware however that sometimes others take convincing of the benefit of virtual reality. I too was in that camp until I got my first VR experience. From that moment on I was hooked. I have since purchased a camera (or two) and dived in to all the challenges this immersive technology is throwing at me. I did however find my first efforts at VR video rather lacklustre.. The quality of the resultant videos, whist good on an iphone were somewhat lacking in clarity when displayed through a VR headset. I found it all rather 1990’s video-ish. A bit too soft for my liking. Improvements however are coming thick and fast. 4k vr video is quickly giving way to 5.7k and more I suspect as technology improves.

I am therefore sad that my father couldn’t benefit from virtual reality, but glad that things are moving ahead. I cannot help but feel people today with life restricting conditions and indeed anyone that simply cannot get out anymore will soon be able to live a life filled with great experiences however old or infirm they may be, and that has to be great for all of us.

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