HTC Announces First 'VR For Impact' Projects

HTC celebrated Earth Day by announcing the first VR for Impact grant recipients: SpaceVR, Tree, and The Extraordinary Honey Bee, all of which seek to change how you view the world.

VR for Impact debuted in January to help developers support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals with new VR experiences. HTC said at the time that it would invest $10 million via the program to inspire devs to “improve awareness, education, and lead to action” to help address the “global issues the human race is facing.” The announcement certainly got some attention--HTC said it’s received more than 14,000 applications for the program.

All those applications were sifted through via an “extended vetting process” that led to these three programs becoming VR for Impact’s first grant recipients. Each project has a different focus: SpaceVR wants to let you explore beyond our planetary confines, Tree lets you feel what it’s like to be a tree in a rainforest, and The Extraordinary Honey Bee offers a look at how bee colonies are struggling to survive in our changing world and what that means for us humans.

SpaceVR

HTC actually let the cat out of the bag earlier this week, when it announced that SpaceVR would be the first company to receive support via the VR for Impact program. That announcement was made during VRLA, when SpaceVR offered more information about its plan to shoot the Overview 1 satellite into space by hitching a ride to the International Space Station with SpaceX. (You can learn more about SpaceVR’s plans for Overview 1 in our report from VRLA.)

But the announcement for Tree and The Extraordinary Honey Bee still came as a surprise. Here’s what the company said about Tree:

Tree is a critically acclaimed virtual reality experience enhanced by haptic feedback to immerse viewers in the tragic fate that befalls a rainforest tree. The experience brings to light the harrowing realities of deforestation, one of the largest contributors to global warming. [...] Tree is an official selection of Sundance Film Festival New Frontier and Tribeca Film Festival Immersive 2017.

HTC also shared a teaser trailer for The Extraordinary Honey Bee:

The Extraordinary Honey Bee

You can learn more about SpaceVR, Tree, and VR for Impact on their official websites. (The Extraordinary Honey Bee, which is a joint project between Häagen-Dazs, Reach Agency, and Spectacle, doesn’t appear to have a website.) HTC said all three of the projects will be available via its Viveport platform--which makes sense, considering it’s financially supporting their development--but it didn’t say when you’ll be able to experience any of the content for yourself.

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