This Family Reunion Uses Virtual Reality to Bring People Closer in a Very Real Way

Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, Flickr

As technology continues to advanced, virtual reality platforms are becoming more accessible for more and more people. Inexpensive versions of VR headsets that transport users from their living rooms to the bottom of ocean floors or the peaks of snow-topped mountains were one of the most popular gifts of the 2016 holiday seasons.

While gaming is obviously a main driver behind the development of VR technologies, it’s not the only application for this powerful medium. The educational, and psychological, and social applications of virtual reality may not be as sexy as those in the gaming or entertainment industries, but they are already making an impact in ways never before conceived. And that’s exactly what two immigrant entrepreneurs are proving with their groundbreaking venture.

Alvaro Morales and Frisly Soberanis are the brilliant minds behind the Family Reunions Project, or FRP for short. Both are immigrants who were brought to the U.S. by their parents as children. Though they came from different countries – Alvaro from Guatemala and Frisly from Peru – they both shared the experience of being separated from family in their native countries. Their own stories were the inspirational spark that fueled the two men to dedicate countless hours and resources to developing FRP.

The Family Reunions Project has already bridged the gap for dozens of families separated by thousands of miles and international borders. One man living in Virginia was able to attend the wedding of his younger sister in Mexico without even leaving his couch. Rather than watching the festivities through a grainy Skype video or flipping through pictures after the fact, he was able to feel a part of the event in a way that only a technology like virtual reality immersion can deliver.

Hundreds of videos filmed with the use of a 360-degree camera rig have been compiled from different locations in Peru and Mexico. Alvaro continues to make trips to record more videos and personal postcards that friends and family members in faraway places can send to their loved ones in the U.S. At the same time, Frisly is recording another set of postcards from immigrant families that can also be shared.

Though the experience can be bittersweet, it is another example of how advanced technologies can help to bring people closer together. For those who are unable to make the trip in person for financial, legal, or health reasons can be instantly transported home to reunite with loved ones in an incredibly real and immersive way. To learn more about the Family Reunions Project visit https://www.familyreunionsproject.com.

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