Two Young Men Started a Tech Company With a Simple, Beautiful Goal: To Connect Distant Families
It's the time of year when most families come together from near and far to celebrate the holidays. But not all families are so lucky. For some immigrants living in America, traveling across borders themselves or asking their relatives to do so is impossible, whether due to finances or to legal status. Postcards, letters, text messages, and phone calls provide some manner of connection—but there's nothing quite like seeing loved ones in the flesh.
Alvaro Morales and Frisly Soberanis have come up with what might be the next-best thing to in-person visits, using cutting-edge technology. The Family Reunions Project is the brainchild of the two young men; the organization offers people a novel way to "see" their loved ones: virtual reality.
So far, 12 families have participated in the project. Alvaro and Frisly help connect family members across borders by going to visit the hometowns of people currently living in the United States, and creating in those towns what they refer to as "3-D postcards" and longer 360-degree videos, which can then be viewed by the family members in the US using inexpensive virtual reality goggles.
"It's a radically different way of connecting to home, because it's immersive," says Alvaro. One participant was amazed to see full-grown trees in his hometown via the VR goggles. "I remember playing outside all day, and they were just planting the trees," he says. Can you imagine?!
Another family group was able to witness the wedding of one member, watching as she walked down the aisle and dancing along with groups at the wedding reception.
"We're not providing a solution to the problem of separation," Frisly says. "We're using the medium to explore what that means, and bring these issues to light."
The founders of the Family Reunions Project plan to continue working with new families, and also hope that the technology will become more accessible to anyone interested in connecting through virtual reality. To learn more about their work, visit their website.
Original story via Upworthy