February is Black History Month and it’s not too late to honor through the magic of XR thanks to these activations from ROSE, TIME and Meta, and Virbela.
Walk Through Black History With ROSE
As a Black-owned company, ROSE makes an effort every year to create an immersive and educational experience for Black History Month, and this year the company delivered yet again. This year’s AR experience, with “resistance” as the highlight, is titled Marching Forward.
The experience, which you can visit here on your smartphone, takes the form of a double row of AR statues. You walk down the aisle and tap the statues to learn more about their inspiration.
“We really wanted to create balance within the experience with the solid bronze look of the statues and in turn, draw the users to explore the changing Black Lives Matter text on the ground,” explained ROSE Art Director Jourdan Johnson. “The text updates to display colorized images related to the moment to get a better understanding of what they are learning about.”
This involves physically moving down the aisle, which is a powerful experience but can be complicated for example in smaller spaces. If you need more room or have mobility issues, you can reposition the experience to make it easier.
The stories start with the roots of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, moving up through the Black Panther Party, art and literature movements through the 1980s, and moving up into the current-day BLM movement. The story behind each statue is read by professional voice actress Joy Ofodu. You also have the option to read the information yourself.
“From a podium or a canvas, your voice can be heard and can make a difference. That is an important message for everyone going through this experience,” said Johnson. “We can use the knowledge of the past and get inspired, particularly for those who are not Black, to support and amplify Black voices in our communities in a multitude of ways.”
Experience the Struggle With TIME and Meta
Meta teamed up with TIME to create MLK: The Time is Now, a free experience exploring how ongoing issues like housing, voting rights, and law enforcement practices remain real issues facing the Black community 60 years after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. The experience works comfortably while sitting and employs hand tracking.
Hand tracking is often an intimate part of the experience, bringing users into the different vignettes presented in the experiences. For example, the second experience, putting you in the seat of a Black man in a car that has just been pulled over, only progresses when you take your hands off of the steering wheel, escalating the situation with the four police officers.
The experience, available on Meta Quest, uses a combination of artistic and engaging virtual reality, moving voiceovers, recorded interviews with modern subjects, and archival footage and audio. Overall, the experience is a brief but powerful exploration of the fact that the Voting Rights Act did not bring complete equality.
This experience was not created specifically for Black History Month – it actually came out last month. But, if you’re looking for educational XR experiences to celebrate BHM, put this on your list. And, if you don’t get around to it in February, it isn’t going anywhere.
Step Into Virbela’s New and Improved Black History Library
For our final stop this Black History Month, we’re visiting Virbela. If you’ve celebrated Black History Month with ARPost in the past, you already know about Virbela’s Black History Library. It’s true, this isn’t the first time that the platform has hosted this initiative, but it is the first time since the platform got a major graphics update last spring.
The library is bigger, brighter, and better than ever in its new home. Inside, the library is divided into sections on musicians, authors, playwrights, programmers, and more. So, browse around or go straight to what interests you. The actual items in the library are links that take you to reading suggestions, music playlists, and other resources.
To find the library, enter the Virbela open campus. Then, click on the map icon in the upper right corner. At the top of the page, change the view from “Campus Map” to “World Map” and select the Black History Library from the menu on the right.
How Do You Honor Black History Month
Whether you’re walking through Black history with ROSE, putting your hands on it with TIME and Meta, or reading up on it with Virbela, we hope that you make the best of this Black History Month by diving into XR.