HTC Corp. has launched a $10 million fund to encourage developers to build virtual reality experiences that promote social good and sustainability.
HTC, which makes the HTC Vive VR headset, is launching the new VR for Impact fund to help build content and technology that supports the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. These are 17 challenging goals that the U.N. hopes to achieve by 2030, including an end to poverty and hunger, better worldwide access to education and healthcare, the development of sustainable energy production and others.
On the fund’s website, HTC says that it believes VR “has the potential to change the world unlike any technology before it” due to its ability to immerse people in unique experiences.
“The potential for Virtual Reality to help us learn, understand, and transform the world is limitless,” said Cher Wang, chairwoman and chief executive of HTC. “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. HTC Vive will fund the best ideas using Virtual Reality that truly drive awareness and positive change in our world.”
Today at the World Economic Forum, HTC said that it will be demonstrating VR experiences that put users into the shoes of people who “face some of humanity’s biggest challenges” in an effort to demonstrate the potential for VR as a tool of social good.
“HTC is a pioneer in recognizing the work the U.N. has done to promote social change through virtual reality,” said Gabo Arora, creator of the U.N.’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.”
HTC has started accepting applications from developers interested in taking part in its VR for Impact program, and the company will announce the first winning projects on Earth Day, April 22.
Oculus VR Inc., HTC’s main VR competitor, has its own social good program called VR for Good, which focuses supporting 360 film projects by students, professional filmmakers and nonprofits. Rather than providing funds directly, VR for Good offers training, equipment and mentorship for rising VR filmmakers. Oculus will reveal eight of the first 10 films from the VR for Good program Jan. 22 at the Sundance Film Festival.