Sky and the world’s most famous natural history broadcaster, Sir David Attenborough, have teamed up for a whole new virtual reality experience. Hold the World brings to life some of the Natural History Museum’s rarest specimens to give audiences hands-on lesson from the great man himself.
Launching this spring at London’s Natural History Museum, the virtual reality crossover between interactive video game and TV documentary offers viewers an impressive access all areas personal tour with none other than Attenborough himself as a 3D hologram. A hologram which was created after Attenborough was filmed by more than 100 cameras to then be digitally recreated.
The tour, which lasts from 20 minutes to an hour, includes getting up close and personal with a series of rare artifacts and objects from the museum’s collection including the blue whale that greets you in the main entrance hall, a stegosaurus, a trilobite, a dragonfly, a butterfly and a pterosaur. Through the amazing virtual technology, people will be able to virtually pick up and hold and even enlarge the objects they choose to explore.
HeyUGuys were lucky enough to get down to a press preview at the Natural History Museum to find out what all the fuss is about and try out the experience firsthand.
Our Hold the World journey begins with donning the Oculus headset, but unlike most of these VR experiences we have tried to date, this one has the necessity for the use of two Oculus touch controllers too. Well, how else are you going to get your hands on some of natures finest specimens?
As the experience loads, your eyes and brain are given a feast of a spectacularly real vision of the museum with a choice of three doors leading into the Conservation Centre, the Earth Sciences Library or the Cryptogamic Herbarium – choosing to venture behind the Earth Sciences door I was greeted with a room that has rarely been privy to the eyes of the general public. Sat behind a desk which housed two boxes, Sir David Attenborough materialises to give you a brief explanation of the room you are in and asking you to choose a box.
The immense detail and realism of the experience is probably one of the best I have ever experienced and because of this, it took a while to get the hang of just opening a simple drawer. It wasn’t just a simple movement of just pulling the drawer open, you actually have to reach out as if you are reaching out in reality. Once the draw is open you lift the specimen out and place it in front of David who proceeds to give you a tutorial.
During the tutorial, you are advised to pick the specimen up. This is where the major fun begins, with the Oculus gloves you can turn the image around 360 degrees as well as shrink and enlarge the item. Focal points on the specimen are highlighted and once you focus your gaze on these areas it triggers Sir David to continue with his lesson.
It doesn’t stop there, once the lesson is over, he disappears and the room transforms into an open space, exactly the kind of environment you would expect to see a living breathing blue whale. The same blue whale you have previously been toying with comes to life and swims around in front of you.
As VR experiences go, Sky’s Hold the World, which will be available via the SKY VR App can be classed top of the game. Its visual realism is beyond breathtaking if a little unnerving and its interactive formula is truly innovative. Our only issue is that not everyone will have a chance to experience this fun natural history lesson as the experience will only be available to Sky VIP customers.
Hold the World will be available to Sky VIP customers through the Sky VR app when it’s released, subject to normal entry conditions at the Natural History Museum.
The Sky VR app and Hold the World Experience is supported by Google Daydream View, Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift headset, while Hold The World will also be available as a standalone app on Microsoft Windows Mixed Reality devices for a limited time.