Bedtime stories are going into an entirely new dimension with Samsung’s new Bedtime VR (Virtual Reality) stories. Currently in a prototype face, the new app allows parents and children to experience a story called “Most Wonderful Place to Be” together — even if they happen to be in different homes, cities, or countries. My knee-jerk reaction when I saw this was, “Ugh. This is just another way we are allowing screentime and technology to pervade every aspect of our lives.” But when I found out that more than a third of kids are not with their parents for a bedtime story, the advantages became clear for the many families who, whether for work or family situations, aren’t physically near each other at such an important time of the day.
The set-up is fairly simple: parents connect to the app, slip their phone into a Gear VR headset and put it on, while their child puts their phone into a Google Cardboard headset that is decorated to look like a character animal. Voila! Parent and child “appear” together in the virtual world and in the story, which travels through three different locales: the Arctic, a prehistoric dinosaur world, and then outer space. Parents read the story aloud to the child and encourage them to act out certain elements or make observations about what they are both seeing. I wasn’t super-impressed with the “illustrations,” but the bedtime story is still in prototype phase and future books could build on this foundation. The fact that both parent and child are seeing the same thing at the same time is pretty cool. On one of the rare occasions I was away from my kids at bedtime, I tried to do the whole routine via Facetime. Trust me, trying to read to my 7 year-old while he held his book with its teeny tiny font in front of the phone was not so easy. Most of us would probably agree that this new VR possibility is not a substitute for the lovely experience of choosing a book and then cuddling close together at the end of the day, but if families can’t be together physically at bedtime, we’re all for finding ways for them to bond and spend time together, even if it’s in the virtual realm. The app is planned to work specifically with the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and Gear VR Headset. Check out the app’s 360-degree Walk Through on Youtube to see this bedtime story in action.
via The Verge