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HTC Vive unveils $10 million VR for Impact campaign

HTC Vive is launching VR for Impact, a $10 million effort to drive the development of virtual reality technologies that have a positive impact on the world and on society.

The move is an attempt to turn the hottest consumer trend of virtual reality into a force for social good. This program is meant to support the United Nations? Sustainable Development Goals.

"The potential for Virtual Reality to help us learn, understand, and transform the world is limitless. VR for Impact is a challenge to the VR community and content developers across the globe to help drive awareness and to solve the biggest challenges of mankind," said Cher Wang, chairwoman and CEO of HTC.  "HTC Vive will fund the best ideas using Virtual Reality that truly drive awareness and positive change in our world. We encourage all players in the VR eco-system to join as only together can we drive real impact."

VR for Impact
Just a few years ago, the idea that virtual reality might soon be a prominent and possibly even necessary part of many marketers? budgets might seem laughable.

But in the intervening years, virtual reality has exploded in popularity. Much of that growth can be attributed to the rise of universal mobile penetration.

When every consumer has a VR-capable device in their pockets, the technology is bound to continue to grow in prominence.

Virtual reality has already become a popular form of marketing for many brands, using the technology to deliver unique, immersive branded experiences.

But now, with the support of the United Nations, Vive is working to promote the use of virtual reality for humanitarian purposes as well.

Vive is committing $10 million to the development of virtual reality programs that can be used for education, raising awareness of social problems and can act as a call-to-action for finding solutions to those problems.

"HTC is a pioneer in recognizing the work the UN has done to promote social change through virtual reality," said Gabo Arora, creator of the UN's VR Initiative and creative advisor to the World Food Programme. "The Vive's room-scale VR capability can be a powerful tool for immersive storytelling, education and training; their support will empower more people to affect global change, give voices to the most vulnerable and provide access to new possibilities for the most marginalized."

Virtual reality 
Even outside of the new Vive initiative, virtual reality and mobile video has already been used by some to promote awareness or for educational purposes.

For example, a recent advertisement from Ford makes use of the unique format of mobile video to raise awareness about the dangers of blind spots when driving (see story).

Virtual reality provides even more unique formal opportunities to educate viewers. The Nobel museum in Dubai this year used virtual reality to give visitors a more immersive view into the exhibits (see story).

But while virtual reality can be used as a tool for social progress, it is encouraging to see Vive use its platform and status as one of the top VR developers to get the ball rolling even more.

"There are millions of untold stories in every crisis, especially on the front lines where much of our work takes place," said Corinne Woods, director of communications for the World Food Program. "HTC's support of new ways to tell important stories, and help in shaping innovation for the UN's sustainable development agenda, will build on the impact of our work and take it in new and exciting directions."