The Apollo 11 Experience has been shown to students in Ireland. Photograph: Immersive VR Education
Irish startup Immersive VR Education is hoping to take a small step for virtual reality with a crowdfunding campaign for its app based on the Apollo 11 moon landing.
The company is trying to raise €30,000 on the Kickstarter website for The Apollo 11 Experience, which uses archive footage and audio from Nasa of the 1969 lunar expedition.
“We have created an inspirational journey that we hope will engage students and give them a better understanding of what took place way back in 1969,” explains the company’s Kickstarter pitch.
“We don’t just want kids to read about history, we want them to experience history as a living entity that they can relate to.”
If successful in its crowdfunding campaign, the company will expand the prototype into a full app with more detailed models, animated avatars and interactive features, with audio – including interviews – with astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
According to the Kickstarter pitch, players will be able to “carry out the same experiments as Buzz and Neil as you explore the lunar surface” when the app is released in July.
The project’s producer, David Whelan, is also chief editor of VR-focused website Virtual Reality Reviewer, which published some first impressions of the demo as the crowdfunding campaign went live:
“There is no denying that Apollo 11 is still very much a work in progress. It still needs, at least, to add the lunar landing itself and the return voyage to feel complete.
There are also improvements to be made to the existing segments – some textures are missing or could be enhanced and adding more animations would have a big impact on immersion. If you’re not naturally interested by the subject matter then it could be considered a little slow at times, but on the whole it is very well composed.”
The Apollo 11 Experience is the latest example of virtual reality technology being used outside the gaming that was the initial focus for Oculus Rift maker Oculus VR, which was bought by Facebook for $2bn in 2014.
Oculus recently unveiled a new division of the company, Story Studio, which will make animated VR films to be experienced using its headset. Meanwhile, Vice Media is backing filmmaker Chris Milk’s exploration of VR’s potential for journalism.
Elsewhere, Toyota is using virtual reality to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted-driving; Oculus rival Fove has a VR app that helps children with physical disabilities play the piano; and there have been musical VR apps for Paul McCartney and The Who.