Virtual reality takes aging vets to national memorials

Press release: Veterans United Foundation and Jaunt Inc. Release Honor 360 Virtual Reality Experiences Bringing National Memorials to Those Aging and Disabled Military Veterans Who Cannot Make the Trip

This Veterans Day, Veterans United and Jaunt Bring Immersive, Virtual Honor Flights to US Military Veterans Everywhere

Veteran with Google Cardboard headset. (Image courtesy Veterans United Foundation.)
Veteran with Google Cardboard headset. (Image courtesy Veterans United Foundation.)

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Jaunt Inc., the leading purveyor of fully-immersive cinematic virtual reality experiences, and Veterans United Foundation, the charitable arm of Veterans United Home Loans, in conjunction with Central Missouri Honor Flight, Story Up Studios and Ghost Machine, today announced the release of a special Veterans Day Honor Everywhere 360 virtual reality experience.

This Veterans Day tribute provides aging and disabled US military veterans, many of whom are no longer able to travel, a virtual “Honor Flight” to Washington, DC where they can experience the memorials constructed in their honor.

Cinematic virtual reality represents a totally new medium that instantly gives the viewer a sense of being transported to an entirely different location, as if they were actually there. Many ailing and disabled Veterans are physically unable to visit memorials made in their honor. But through the new medium of cinematic virtual reality these Veterans were given the experience of being present, alongside their comrades who actually visited the Memorials in Washington DC earlier in the year.

Through the use of a Google Cardboard headset, even veterans that are unfamiliar with virtual reality technology are able to easily access this unique experience from wherever they are in the world. With over 500 veterans passing away each day, bringing this experience to veterans across the nation was the least that Jaunt and Veterans Foundation could do for these heroes.

“This groundbreaking virtual reality experience delivers a life-like experience that we believe veterans will enjoy,” said Jens Christensen, CEO and co-founder of Jaunt. “Thanks to the transportive nature of virtual reality technology, the Honor Everywhere 360 experience affords American war heroes the virtual experience of visiting the Washington DC memorials. Jaunt is honored to have played a part in the production and distribution of Honor Everywhere 360 and we are excited that Veterans across the nation will be able to participate in this one-of-a-kind experience.”

Captured with proprietary Jaunt cameras and advanced 3D sound-field microphones this past Memorial Day, the virtual reality experience places viewers right alongside their fellow Veterans as they visit US War Memorials in Washington DC.

This virtual “Honor Flight” was made possible through donations by Veterans United Foundation, Jaunt, Google, Central Missouri Honor Flight, Ghost Machine and Story Up Studios.

For this project, Jaunt handled all of the Virtual Reality production, including encoding and distributing the app. Veterans United Foundation handled the scripts and provided all behind the scenes and archive video.

Central MO Honor Flight facilitated the experience at nursing homes with technology guardians. Ghost Machine VR consulted on the game development needs and website design while Story Up Studios provided the 2D video reaction stories and is leading the distribution effort in nursing homes.

(Image courtesy Veterans United Foundation.)
(Image courtesy Veterans United Foundation.)

“Watching a Veteran experience an Honor Flight is something everyone should witness,” said Greg Steinhoff, director of Veterans United Foundation. “The memories in their eyes, the flood of emotions, it’s a special time to get to share. And, we knew not every Veteran was getting their chance to travel to their memorial. That’s why we teamed up with the pioneers in virtual reality so we could get every Veteran their earned right to be a part of their memorial. Honor Everywhere 360 is the future, each Veteran will turn his or her head left or right, up or down and really be at his or her memorial.”

“I felt like I was there,” said Dale Garrett, WWII Veteran. “It’s personal and close up and you feel like you could be walking with those people…it’s moving.”

As evidenced by ABC News and Associated Press recent attention on cinematic virtual reality, and last week’s distribution of 1.3 million Google cardboard viewers to New York Times subscribers, adoption of virtual reality is rapidly growing into a viable mainstream media platform.

Honor Everywhere 360 is the perfect application to showcase the capabilities of this cutting edge technology. This special Veterans Day Honor Everywhere 360 virtual reality experience is available free to anyone with a smartphone and a Google Cardboard viewing device. To view the experience on iOS, download the JauntVR app on iTunes, and for Android Devices download the Honor Everywhere app in the GooglePlay Store. Monoscopic versions can also be found on the Jaunt VR YouTube channel or on Facebook 360.

About Jaunt

Jaunt is pioneering the future of creative storytelling through cinematic virtual reality. Founded in 2013, Jaunt is the leading developer of the hardware, software, tools, and applications to enable cinematic virtual reality and put the power of virtual reality in the hands of today’s best content creators. In addition, Jaunt works with leading creatives – from brands to artists to filmmakers – to create cutting-edge content through its studio arm, Jaunt Studios. Headquartered in Palo Alto, California, the company also maintains a presence in Los Angeles and produces branded and original virtual reality content for audiences worldwide. Jaunt’s investors include The Walt Disney Company, Evolution Media Partners, China Media Capital, Highland Capital Partners, Google Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Axel Springer, ProSiebenSat.1 SE, The Madison Square Garden Company, Peter Gotcher, Blake Krikorian, and Sky.

About Veterans United Foundation

Veterans United Foundation is supported entirely by the employees of Veterans United Home Loans. The foundation is committed to enhancing the lives of veterans and military families nationwide, by supporting nonprofit organizations that strengthen local communities and honor the sacrifices of those who served our country. It also provides individual donations to current and former military members in need. More than $15 million has been raised since its inception in November 2011.

About Veterans United Home Loans

Based in Columbia, Mo., Veterans United is a national lender that financed more than $5.1 billion in loans in 2014. Its mission is to help Veterans and service members take advantage of the home loan benefits earned by their service.

About Central Missouri Honor Flight

Based in Central Missouri, Central Missouri Honor Flight is a 501c (3) organization that was created solely to honor America’s Veterans for all their sacrifices. The group transports our heroes from throughout Central Missouri to Washington D.C. for visit their memorials at no cost to them. Since inception in 2009, more than 1,900 Veterans have gone to Washington D.C. on 32 flights.

About Ghost Machine VR

Based in Austin, Texas, Ghost Machine is a virtual reality studio with game design and filmmaking roots that aims to harness the power of interactivity and traditional visual storytelling to give audiences a one-of-a-kind immersive experience that has to be seen to believe.

About Story Up Studios

Story Up is a virtual reality storytelling studio based in the Missouri Innovation Center. Led by journalists, it combines story with immersive video to create social good.