You can’t always be where you want, and if you’re working a great distance from a loved one at the end of a pregnancy, you might miss out on the birth of your child, but Samsung has helped bridge that gap with its Gear VR.
Call it a world first because it very likely is, but Samsung has made it possible for a husband working thousands of kilometres away from his pregnant wife to be with her at the time of birth, relying on a 360 degree camera and wireless streaming to make a virtual appearance an actual thing, and allow the husband to see his child before arriving home one week later.
Samsung made this happen for a Perth couple, Alison and Jace Larke, a husband and wife from Perth, with Jason currently working out of a small mining town in Queensland 4000 kilometres away from his wife, who was due to give birth in Western Australia.
“After we found out I was five weeks pregnant with our third child, we watched our baby grow, found out he was a boy and dreamed about what the future may hold,” said Alison Larke. “Then at 30 weeks pregnant, Jace’s contract roster was confirmed and it was more than likely he would miss the birth our baby, pending a miracle. But that’s exactly what we got.”
The miracle Alison speaks of is the opportunity to connect using a 360 degree camera, live streaming via a 4G internet uplink, and a Samsung Gear VR headset which itself comprises of the Gear VR and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 smartphone.
With this technology working together, all Jace Larke needed was to wear the headset and take part virtually, with his wife able to hear him from the other side of the country.
Think of it as like Skype, albeit a version of the technology where the screen on your end can let you look all around you, as if you were there in the same room.
“Jace was able to see our son born and experience the birth as if he was in the room with me even though he was working away on the other side of the country,” said Mrs. Larke.
“For me it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders knowing he would not be missing out on such a precious moment in our lives and we would virtually be experiencing the birth together. It has been an absolutely amazing, once in a life time experience that has changed our lives forever.”
It’s one of the first times we’ve heard of the Gear VR used with live streaming, though it’s not likely to be the last, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see if Samsung used this for its own keynotes and announcements in the near future.
“Being a father myself, I know how incredible the birth of a child is,” said Arno Lenior, Chief Marketing Officer for Samsung in Australia.
“Alison and Jace’s story is familiar to millions of Australians and the reality of being away from family and friends is a heart-wrenching experience that most of us understand. But through the power of the Gear VR technology, we could help Jace welcome his third son into the world, in an exciting, unique way.”
On a technical note, from what we can tell, the camera appears to be one manufactured by Point Grey and put together with a small computer in the hospital room where Alison was staying, with this 360 degree video feed streaming the information directly to a Note 4 and Gear VR used by Jace on the other side of the country.
Based on that, we need to note that this isn’t the sort of thing every one and their dog could do, even if they owned a Samsung Gear VR and the Galaxy Note 4, as this sort of tech likely doesn’t come cheap, especially since it would require a computer or a video processing system to be working alongside (or both).
Still, it’s a very cool use of the technology, and one that we’re sure the Larkes won’t ever forget.
“This is what technology is all about,” said Lenor, adding “enabling human experiences.”
You can follow the story of Jace and Alison Larke with Gear VR in Samsung LifeLIVE below, a short video that may not be safe for work since it is about child birth.