UNICEF look to make VR/AR work for everyone

The UNICEF Innovation Fund has announced that it is seeking applications from AR/VR startups to submit their ideas for harness the technology for the greater good.

The organisation wants to focus on ‘good technology’ – that which allows people around the world better access to information, opportunities and choice, preferably in an equitable way.

Solutions that fulfil these criteria will be rewarded with seed funding and access to UNICEF’s country offices for use-case knowledge and testing.

The United Nations programme is looking to make investments in the following areas:

  • software for creating or consuming AR/VR experiences
  • platforms and other solutions that promote wider access to the technology
  • platforms and other solutions that provide better tools for creators to design and deliver experiences
  • awesome content

Companies or developers that want to get involved can apply here.

Virtuous reality

In a blog post announcing the application process, the organisation states that:

“Developing new technologies in bubbles works against them. By facilitating access to the world’s biggest problems and challenging regions we provide a window to an exciting future where VR/AR can make a true impact and bring meaningful change – and live up to its considerable market size projections over the next few years.”

UNICEF wants to take the innovation that is happening in research labs and the private sector and transplant it to the humanitarian space. An example given by the organisation was that of employee training:

“If a 3D model of an espresso machine can help people learn faster and better in VR to prepare coffee, then the same should be attempted in learning how to fix a solar panel on a remote Vanuatu island or install a water pump in Pakistan.”

Another key area is the organisation’s health programmes. Simulation and gamification can be a useful tool for training child protection professionals and doctors for dealing with intense situations.

UNICEF also sees a broader benefit for the technology:

“Finally, as the world has grown more fragmented and divided, we must continue to look for stories that bridge cross-cultural gaps and create a dialogue. We want to see more examples of meaningful human connections. Art and empathy go a long way, and we think that the VR horizon for capturing and marrying both is uniquely expansive and valuable.”

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