To literally dive into nature and ramble through wood, marsh or meadow at close quarters is made possible in an instant with „Expedition Wilde Welten“ (Wild Worlds): in the virtual reality application two rangers, Christina and Klaus, guide you into various biospheres which can be explored in near realism.
Hobnobbing with badgers, red deer and spiders, discovering plants and animals of the marsh or looking
into big owl eyes in the light of the full moon and listening to animal voices – „Expedition Wilde
Welten“ enables all this and more, even if you aren’t really present there in the natural world.
One of the most important goals is to re-inspire young people especially about the nature outside their
front door and to take trips there. Things that usually remain hidden to ramblers are revealed; made
curious and interesting by our technology.
„Hardly anybody knows for example how much life there is in a dead tree. With the VR application participants will be introduced to some rare insects like the hermit beetle, which they would never catch sight of otherwise. Afterwards, one sees the environment with different eyes and wants to see more", Marc Thiele of Stiftung NaturSchutzFonds Brandenburg states with conviction. Thus the application is excellently suited for use in schools.
"With good VR glasses the picture is hardly distinguishable from reality. Thus an especially emotional experience happens when one is suddenly up to one's knees in a marsh and can look around in all directions", explains Holger Weber of Kubikfoto. But also on a PC or mobile devices such as a mobile phone or tablet, users have the opportunity with a mouse click or by swivelling the device to look in all directions or to go on a tour of discovery.
Interaction – that's the most important component of „Wilden Welten“ (Wild Worlds). Users find themselves in a 360° panorama, which they control, discover to the full and experience or can activate in certain areas. With VR glasses this happens with head movements. To be specific: the software recognises in which direction the user moves and reacts with a direct response. "Thus the VR application virtually becomes a film, which users direct themselves. They select which animals and biospheres they want to examine more closely. They also can change between day and night," explains Thiele. But “Wilde Welten” can also be experienced on a normal PC screen.
This virtual reality application can be experienced on all devices directly in the browser by
state-of-the-art WebVR technology. With or without virtual reality headset. If VR glasses are connected
to the PC, the website automatically identifies this and will display content to the VR headset, for
example, to the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. Thus the user can simply and directly dive into virtual worlds,
all without having to install an app.
Of course, all this works as well on mobile devices like smartphones, Google Cardboard, Oculus Go, Google Daydream or Samsung Gear VR.
Holger Weber and the Kubikfoto team spent five days and nights in the biosphere reserve
Schorfheide-Chorin in order to comprehensively catch on camera, with much skill and patience, the
habitat of species like grass snakes, cranes or sea hawks.
Other species, like red deer or badger, were added later digitally. "That's the great thing about our
"Wilde Welten" (wild worlds): you get quite a realistic impression of the creatures in their natural
habitat, and at the same time, you don’t have to have spent a week in the woods in order to follow the
track of all the animals and plants shown", says Marc Thiele of Stiftung NaturSchutzFonds Brandenburg.
The two rangers, Christina and Klaus, who welcome users to the application, aren’t actors incidentally but real nature guardian rangers of the Biosphere reserve Schorfheide-Chorin.
Discovering all corners and creatures in wood, marsh and meadow takes around one and a half hours. In total there are 50 species to spot. For those who prefer to enjoy this experience in stages, their next visit is just a click away. By the way, users can check out their newly acquired knowledge in a quiz.