A New Fight with Cancer: a One Man Team and VR Changing Lives
What were you doing last November before Thanksgiving? Our company was at the VR for Good Summit in Washington D.C. It was a great conference! We were able to meet a lot of VR/AR industry professionals using the technology to do good. One of the speakers in particular, Piotr Łój, did a presentation on how to best use virtual worlds but also, the risks of escaping too far from the real world.
We saw such an amazing use of these technologies and wanted to know the story behind Virtual Dream, and also support and promote this usage and content creation. So here is our interview with Piotr and what a moving story! Enjoy.
What is Virtual Dream?
- Virtual Dream is foundation which is developing and implementing projects in social, medical and humanitarian field using Virtual and Augmented Reality Technology. Mostly focused on oncology clinics and hospices for children.
Also, in order to support, and bring relief and equal chances for limited or socially excluded groups, we spread awareness and educate youth about: risks of development of artificial worlds and virtual environments; risks of depression by the substitutes of real relationships, escapism, alter ego, etc.
The dream is to create a research and development center with stable funding and/or sponsorship, to adapt the newest technology, cooperate with scientific facilities, and do research for best potential usage in the social, medical, and humanitarian fields. Do research on social risks of the newest technology and educate about them. We wish to develop and implement projects globally.
Why did you create Virtual Dream?
- I have 10 years of experience in the creative market and 4 years of experience in VR field. It was a natural process that was leading me to Virtual Reality and social solutions through my whole life. I did technical electric and digital specialization in high-school. During the 5 years of learning about electricity and hardware digital technology, I was attending an after-school painting and drawing courses to get into the Academy of Fine Arts. Which I did, I've studied art and design for the next 5 years. I think this mixture of hardware and visual arts mixed together perfectly into the VR world.
What brought you to use the technology the way you do?
- During those years I was in the Academy of Fine Arts, a family member experienced cancer illness. My mom developed a brain tumor and for next 3 years I experienced first-hand fight against cancer, and giving care to someone slowly passing away. We got through chemo, radiation, surgery, stabilization and after a year, the tumor grew with stronger power, it was incurable at that time.
During those experiences, I got a close look at a everyday life of being in hospitals and clinics, taking care of her at home, and at the end - at the hospice. I know how important it is to have a moment of relief, a moment of separation from this reality.
When I put VR goggles for the first time and felt the immersive power of transporting yourself to another reality - I knew immediately where I should go with it.
Tell us about one lesson learned.
- One lesson learned for today is to let people expand their minds and creativity. The best ideas are coming from collective specializations and experiences. When I'm giving a presentation I never tell people "here is VR and this is what we will use it for" I always go with: "Look at this! Here is what I've done already with it, what do you think?"
And then I give them an idea of what kind of tool they have, I stimulate that idea with my work, then it all starts to mix with their experiences and that's when the best ideas start coming to the table.
What is your best moment of success?
- My best moment... it's every moment that I see that this is working. When I see a smile, when I hear laughter, when I feel relief going through with kids and their parents.
After the production of a movie for Krystian - a paralyzed patient - where he could see moving his own arms by himself, I got a message from his wife that Krystian asked to extend this 5 minutes video to half an hour because it motivates him incredibly. That's when I know that my work is needed.
What is the thing you most enjoy doing at Virtual Dream?
-Every part of my work is somehow enjoyable. Of course visits at the children's clinics and hospices are emotionally draining. But you have to change your thinking and perspective from a long-term sense of unfairness to the here-and-now moment of giving something good that is needed.
I always enjoy talking and giving lectures about the potential of VR and also its risks. Also meeting new people and to hear and see what they came up with using the same tool - it's very inspiring.
How is Virtual Dream going to change the world?
-The Plan is to create a research and development center to adapt the newest technology and search for social risks of usage (addiction, depression, anti-social, escapism etc.) and trying to figure out its' biggest social potential.
At this moment the main goal is to implement and support clinics all over the world in VR equipment and to create a database of 360 experiences for little patients.
Is there a message you would like to send to the tech and VR/AR entrepreneurs?
- We are magicians in an unexplored world that is impacting the viewer consciously and unconsciously with immersive power. We can create anything, there are no boundaries, no laws.
Be responsible with what you are creating.
Let's keep it exciting between the safe lines of stimulation and substitute of the real world.