PacSci Perspectives


A New Building 4

In Pacific Science Center’s Upper Building 4, you can watch the world change in the blink of a T-rex eye.

by Elliot Busse, What Is Reality Intern

Summer VR at Pacific Science Center - Life of Us

Last month, the top of Building 4 opened to the public with several new virtual reality (VR) experiences brought onboard with the help of one of Pacific Science Center’s startups-in-residence, Fearless 360. While much of VR revolves around gaming, Tree and Life of Us both focus on storytelling and social mindsets. These are two of the most unique virtual reality experiences out there, and we are lucky we host them. Tree and Life of Us had previously only been shown at the Sundance and Tribeca film festivals, and the Science Center is pioneering the effort to bring them to a wider audience.

As someone who has used VR for years and seen first-hand many of the experiences that have shaped the community around it, I can say Tree offers something entirely new and unique. Created by artists Milica Zec and Winslow Porter, Tree showcases the effects of deforestation on the Amazon Rainforest. While there have been many endeavors to showcase current issues through VR, few experiences attempt to engage all your senses like Tree does, making it a truly immersive experience. You’re not reading a news article about deforestation while taking a sip of morning coffee; thanks to the sensory effects included in the experience, you can see, feel and smell the rainforest around you. Not only is it a beautiful combination of art, science, and technology, Tree also has the capacity to give each participant a greater perspective on what is happening to rainforest trees every single day.

Unlike most VR experiences, Life of Us is a multiplayer adventure, allowing you to see and talk to your friends and family as you travel through one billion years of evolution in eight minutes. Zach Richter created Life of Us as an attempt to push the boundaries of what current technology is capable of. It’s one thing to read about how a Tyrannosaurus rex was loud and tall, or see that monkeys will monkey around, but it is completely another to experience it “in person” alongside your family and friends.

Tree and Life of Us showcase the power of virtual reality outside the realm of video games. As the most immersive form of media available, VR is unparalleled in its ability to impact our thoughts and emotions. Few other experiences available today demonstrate the power of VR as effectively, and they are well worth checking out. Pick up your free tickets on your next visit to Pacific Science Center.