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Veterans United Foundation announces collaboration with Jaunt Studios to bring Honor Flight and memorials to aging and terminally-ill Veterans through virtual reality

May 19, 2015
The Foundation is working with cinematic virtual reality pioneer Jaunt Studios to create live-action, 360-degree, 3D experiences for each memorial

COLUMBIA, Mo. Veterans United Foundation, the charitable arm of Veterans United Home Loans, announced a new partnership with Google, Jaunt Studios, Ghost Machine VR and Central Missouri Honor Flight to bring the Honor Flight experience to aging Veterans without them ever needing to step foot on an airplane. Honor Everywhere 360 is an immersive virtual reality experience enabling Veterans who are not able to physically travel to Washington D.C. to see their memorials. They will be virtually transported to these memorials with immersive sound and 360-degree visuals that are second only to actually being there.

The United States loses 500 WWII Veterans each day, and many will die before getting the chance to travel to Washington D.C. to see the WWII Memorial. With Honor Everywhere 360, even the most aging and terminally ill Veterans will have the chance to experience the memorials dedicated to them.

"While we will continue to locate WWII Veterans for Honor Flights, sadly, their health is too poor or they are reluctant to go due to their age," Steve Paulsell, flight director of Central Missouri Honor Flight said. "One Veteran even told me he was afraid that if he left his house that he might die. Honor Everywhere 360 will now give these heroes a chance to really experience the magnitude of these hallowed grounds. Technology has given our Veterans a real chance to see their memorials while confined to their homes, hospital rooms or even beds."

To capture these immersive virtual reality experiences, Jaunt Studios will film the memorials using their proprietary 360-degree, stereoscopic 3D cameras paired with specialized 3D sound-field microphones, to give viewers the experience of being right on location. Jaunt is donating the cost of production which requires a specialized camera and film crew to record the memorials. Through a donation from Veterans United Foundation, Jaunt is flying with Central Missouri Honor Flight on May 28 to film. As creative partners, Ghost Machine will work with the Jaunt production crew on location and provide 3D visualization and interactive storytelling support for the project. Once the entire production is complete, the videos are viewable through Android smartphones and Google Cardboard, a virtual reality display viewer donated by Google.

"Honor Flights are truly an amazing experience for our Veterans," Greg Steinhoff, president of Veterans United Foundation said. "Once we realized some Veterans weren't able to make the trip, we helped bring the trip to them via regular, 2D video. Now, we will be able to really put these Veterans in the middle of each memorial thanks to virtual reality and companies like Google, Jaunt and Ghost VR. This next kind of spherical video will allow each Veteran to turn his or her head left or right, up or down and really feel like they are in Washington D.C. looking at their memorials."

"One of the great promises of Jaunt's cinematic virtual reality is its ability to transport viewers to places they could not otherwise go," said Scott Broock, vice president of content for Jaunt. "Bringing this technology to some of the greatest heroes of our time is an amazing opportunity. The experiences we are recording will allow those who served, but can no longer travel, the ability to feel as if they are "there" being honored alongside their fellow servicemen and women."

The first experience will be available this summer with a full release to follow later in 2015. Honor Everywhere 360 is now taking applications for Veterans or assisted living centers that would like the VR program to come to their cities. For more information, visit HonorEverywhere360.com.

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