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HTC Vive pays $10 million to take you into space

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One of the biggest hurdles hampering virtual reality’s charge to the mainstream is a severe shortage of content – cue HTC breaking out the chequebook.

In a bid to drive the creation of VR content, HTC has pledged $10 million in funding to virtual reality products, including the launch of a satellite. All of the projects are designed to support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which means tackling issues like climate changes, hunger, and poverty globally.

The headline project is called SpaceVR, the world’s first virtual reality platform that allows users to experience space first-hand. The project was founded back in 2015, and will see an actual VR satellite – dubbed ‘Overview 1’ – launched into space later this year.

Once Overview 1 is in orbit, it’ll stream full 360-degree video back down to earth, ripe for viewing on a VR headset – like HTC’s Vive, right?

Check it out:

"We’re thrilled to be chosen as one of the first participants in HTC Vive’s VR for Impact program,” said Ryan Holmes, CEO of SpaceVR.

Holmes continued: “We share a vision with Vive that VR and its power to immerse and affect viewers like no other medium can be used to make the world a better place. By launching the first virtual reality satellite, we want to create the most vivid and visceral reminder yet that despite our individual trials and travails, we all live on this same fragile pale blue dot hurtling through space."

Another project that’s getting a chunk of funding is called Tree, a VR experience that immerses viewers in “the tragic fate that befalls a rainforest tree”. The story takes advantage of haptic feedback to up immersion, in a bid to highlight the reality of deforestation.

Here’s a sneak peek:

Excitingly, Tree will be on show at the Sundance Film Festival and Tribeca Film Festival in 2017. Speaking about the funding announcement, Milica Zed, co-director on Tree and co-founder of the New Reality Company, said: “We are incredibly honoured to announce collaboration with the Vive VR for Impact program.”

Zec added: “New Reality shares with VR for Impact a core tenet: that VR storytelling is key to raising awareness for the many challenges facing our earth."

Also receiving funding is The Extraordinary Honey Bee, a guided VR experience mastermind by ice cream aficionados Häagen-Dazs, alongside Reach Agency and Spectacle. The experience examines the rate at which knee populations are falling, and sees the user shrunk down to the size of a bee. In your newly minute form, you’ll get to see the risks you and your colony face, and the solutions that could save beehive-dom.

Take a look at the teaser trailer below:

“We believe in the transformative and educational power of VR and are excited to use this technology to bring the plight of the honey bee to life,” said Orchid Bertelsen, Digital Innovation Lead at Nestlé. “We are thrilled to partner with Vive, not only because of their innovative technology and valuable audience, but because of their ideals and shared belief of harnessing the power of VR to drive true impact."

Related: Oculus Rift vs HTC Vive

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