Watch Out For Debris! Science Channel Taps Virtual Reality To Augment ‘Secret Space Escapes’


Cable’s Science Channel wants to help viewers blast off on their own journey into space.

As the Discovery Communications-owned outlet gears up to show a series about some of the most harrowing moments in space travel, it is hoping to bring viewers closer to the action with a virtual-reality experience meant to complement the program. Viewers can turn to a desktop screen, mobile app or Google Cardboard, the fold-out cardboard mount for smartphones that helps consumers watch virtual-reality scenario, to find themselves in the center of a treacherous space-walk gone horribly awry.

“The virtual-reality technology opens all sorts of possibilities that as a professional storyteller, I’m wildly excited about,” said Bernadette McDaid, vice president of production for Science Channel, in an interview.

“Secret Space Escapes” debuts on Science Channel November 10 at 10 p.m. eastern, but the VR experience related to the program is available today.

By clicking over to , viewers can quickly find themselves experiencing something out of the 2013 space thriller “Gravity.” They get the eye-view of an astronaut who finds himself in a vexing situation: a field of debris begins hurtling toward him just as he makes a space walk to fix a tear in a solar panel. Discovery used computer-generated imagery to enhance the VR experience, a first for its efforts in this nascent area, said McDaid.

While the spacewalk disaster viewers may experience is not an actual one, it is based partially on one of the real-life events that is depicted in the series, McDaid said. “Escapes” will tell the story of an astronaut who had to fix a solar panel at the International Space Station, risking the possibility he might be electrocuted out amongst the stars.

Other media outlets are moving to harness virtual-reality content. CNN last month streamed its coverage of a debate among Democratic candidates for President in three-dimensional virtual reality. ABC News has announced its intention to use virtual-reality technology to accent some of its video reporting, broadening options for viewers.

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