For parents under modern demands who are often away from home and miss that last special moment of the day, an app has appeared. Samsung just revealed the prototype version of Bedtime VR Stories, a technology that connects parents to their children in virtual reality, right before bedtime.
“Using individual VR headsets, the app creates a VR story environment where parent and child can see and interact with each other, for an immersive shared experience”. The app is currently being tested by families in the UK.
The idea is that the parent utilizes a Samsung Gear VR, whereas the child simply needs a Google Cardboard (or equivalent) headset. According to Tom’s Guide, the Gear VR is one of the first virtual reality headsets available for mobile consumers and “delivers an exceptional virtual-reality experience in a lightweight headset at an affordable price”.
Conor Pierce, VP of Samsung UK says: “We've harnessed the power of VR to reunite parents and children for a unique storytelling experience, giving us a glimpse of what the traditional story time may look like in the very near future”.
However, the majority of VR headset manufacturers are settings age limits. Samsung’s product manager for Gear VR, Namkung Boo says the headset “is not recommended for use by children under the age of 13” and “should only be used in 30 minute bursts so as not to damage your eyes”.
Marty Banks, professor of optometry at the University of California, Berkeley, has not yet seen factual evidence of a child who was adversely affected by wearing a VR headset. “My guess is that all they’re doing is saying that kids are developing and development slows down when they reach adolescence, and so lets just play it safe and say that while these kids are undergoing significant development, we’ll advise people not to let them use it”.
VR being a relatively new medium has not been given the chance to study its long- term effects, particularly on children. An excessive focus on the side effects of VR could lead to a denial of virtual intimacy. As solutions to the short-term effects are already in place, Bedtime VR Stories takes a leading role in narrating a utopian vision on remote parenting by offering the most wonderful place to be. Whether this place is in your bed, online or both, it is all a matter of perspective.