January 6, 2021
360 Video
Content Creation
360 video
Gabriella Chihan Stanley

Empty cities as immersive urban sanctuaries

Our new post-pandemic reality has merged our responsibilities at work, as caregivers and human beings—all of it within the four walls of our tiny city apartments. In a world where social media seizes our focus, and remote meetings get a big chunk of our souls, can immersive technologies such as VR bring us the much-needed tools we need for finding balance?

Being a parent during lockdown is hard. Being a parentpreneur during lockdown...well...

Ever since the first COVID-19 lockdown in Vienna, life has been happening so fast that saying that it flashes before my eyes feels like an understatement. From one day to another, I started working from my one-bedroom home, had to move all my office equipment for doing so, and all this while having my 3-year-old ready to spend lots of fun time with her mom for an indefinite period. 

In usual circumstances, when I feel overwhelmed, I would go for a walk outside to clear my mind. My favorite place to do so has always been places of worship because they are generally the quietest places to ponder in an urban environment. No matter their belief, they have always encapsulated a moment in which humans admit their limitations, heal their hearts, and embrace forgiveness.

Looking after our mental health during lockdown is as vital as wearing a face mask.

VR overwhelmed

Bring back the lockdown to mind. I’m sure that if you’re an introverted city rat like me sharing a home-office with a partner and a kid, you’re also trying to cope with confinement by finding as many (legal) ways to be alone elsewhere as possible. And that is how the Empty Vienna 360 video was born. My partner Axel and I wanted to find a way to share these urban islands of peace created by COVID-19 with others. Not only because as parents, entrepreneurs, and introverts, we knew how desperate we were for a fortress of solitude, but also for the unique moment of seeing a European capital like Vienna free of crowds and full of splendor.

Immersive tech such as VR can help us regain our focus and stay in the present moment

We invited viewers to step into an urban moment of serenity. We encouraged them to take all the time they needed to discover details and simply be there. Freedom of pace was vital, so we worked hard on slowing things down and freeing viewers from linear scripts. And last but not least, we wanted people to focus on the city’s new sounds. How fascinating to see the birds almost immediately taking over the city! Not only with their sounds but with their….actions. You will know what I’m talking about once you watch the video. 

From a more job-related perspective, we also saw a significant opportunity to showcase the use of virtual reality for tourism since the context of an empty city center of Vienna was an impossible thought in previous contexts. How many times have we craved an authentic experience in which we can walk around a city with no one around? No massive tours or noises of every sort continually creeping into our attention, taking away the beauty of the place on which we’re standing? Through this 360 video experience, we invited people to see Vienna at its finest. Breathtaking architecture, clear blue skies, and perfectly manicured urban nature. All for themselves.

Resilience is what makes us survive and thrive as humans. You can do this.

Reality, enhanced.

As a VR content creator, I’m incredibly excited to see such an increasing amount of people discovering the value of immersive technologies. During this pandemic, I could help thousands of humans take a break from their reality and step into a place where they could choose to be with others or completely alone. I could facilitate tourism while the borders were closed by transforming people into virtual travelers. I could improve communication for teams by giving them a way to work together using VR as a much richer environment than a conference call could offer. I was even fortunate to be on my very first VR stage to talk about Empty Vienna! I’m honored and humbled to witness this new starting point for virtual reality technology. Because as useful and inspiring as XR had proven to be during these months of confinement, it is only the beginning of outstanding VR and AR content to come. Why? Because we have finally woken up to XR’s true potential.

From this point onwards, the way we live, work, and interact with one another will fundamentally change —as societies and as individuals. Let’s keep finding ways to connect. Let’s find, or find again, what matters and use this moment of mandatory isolation to resume our pursuit for peace within and beyond ourselves.

Enjoy the silence, and stay safe.

Staying focused and motivated while being In a changing world filled with distractions can seem like an impossible mission. My team at vrisch and I believe that virtual reality can make it easier for you to stay productive and connected by giving you the tools you need to have your attention to the moment that matters the most –the present. Contact us today and let us help you find the right immersive tools for your needs. You can do this. VR here for you.