On March 30, 2020, a friend shared with me that she was sheltering in place alone. Wanting to offer support, I mailed a VR headset to her. Once the headset arrived, we met via videoconferencing for a short tutorial to explain how to use the headset. After she learned how to use the headset, I thought I would leave her to explore virtual reality on her own. I quickly realized that we both enjoyed sharing our experiences together. I then sent another headset to her partner, who was sheltering in place separately from her. We started meeting in the evenings to travel virtually all over the world in museums, historical sites, and beaches. We even met in places that do not exist in the physical world. We played games, went fishing, fought off space pirates, walked planks, worked out, went on adventures, and attended events together. The experience positively impacted all three of us. Now I want to share this experience with you.
“It is not possible to understand interactive, immersive experiences until you have experienced it yourself. You can read about it, watch videos, look at pictures, but you will not understand the feeling until you try it for yourself. It is unlike any other experience.” (TWA ParticipantJune 2020)
The mission of the Together While Alone program is to provide meaningful interactive, immersive experiences and education to form community during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Wade in The Water Production developed the Together While Alone program to enable and facilitate meaningful, engaging community experiences while sheltering at home alone. We provide technology, one-on-one, and group tutorials free of charge.
Exploring experiences in virtual reality is creative, fun, and engaging anytime, however, never has there been a time when virtual reality is needed more. On June 16, 2022, WHO Coronavirus COVID-19) Dashboard confirmed a total number of COVID-19 cases confirmed globally 535,248,141 and confirmed deaths 6,313,229. In America there are 84,868,797 confirm cases and 1,002,368 deaths. There have been 11,902,271,619 vaccine doses administered. Many people are interested in exploring virtual experiences as a way to enjoy meaningfully engagement with others without the risk of acquiring airborne illnesses.
Interactive, immersive technologies, such as virtual reality (VR) headsets and haptic apparel, allows us to safely connect with one another while sheltering in place alone. VR enables us to visit places, go to movie theaters, concerts, and dance parties together. Individuals and groups can learn, meditate, make art, and play games together.
The program began with two headsets, and the desire to help a friend. Now, Wade in The Water Productions has a number of stand-alone VR headsets. Some participants decided to buy their own VR headsets after using ours. As the number of community members grows our circle gets larger and stronger.
Wade in The Water Productions will arrange for you to pick up a loaner Oculus Quest headset for the Together While Alone program. Once the headset is received, we will schedule a meeting via video conferencing to provide each person participating with an introduction session for operating the VR headset. The headset is easy to use; it requires only one button to turn on, and you are in virtual space.
After the first session, we meet as a group in VR space once weekly for 1-2 hours per meeting. Participants may borrow the headsets for a maximum of 4 weeks.
Anyone affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and open to fun experiences is eligible to be part of the Together While Alone program.
• Open-minded and interested in fun new experiences.
• Meet as a group in VR once weekly for 1-2 hours per meeting.
• Be respectful of one another and take care of the equipment.
Do I need prior knowledge of digital technology?
No, we will hold one-on-one and group tutorials.
Is it hard to learn how to use a Meta Quest stand-alone VR headset?
No, stand-alone VR headsets are relatively easy to use.
Do I need a computer or any other technology or device to use the headset?
Stand-Alone VR headsets are self-contained. No additional technology is needed to use it. However, it is useful to have internet access, as some of the applications require the internet. Also, it is helpful to have a smartphone or computer for videoconferencing sessions.
I’m afraid of damaging the headset.
Relax, the purpose of this program is to share and teach technology to people for the greater good. In the unlikely event that the headset stops working correctly, just let us know. A VR headset is an advanced piece of technology however, it is meant to be handled and used. We know from lots of experience that the headsets do not break easily. In fact, we still haven’t managed to break one. Some care is required to keep the headset in the original box when not in use. Keep the headset out of bright sunny light. Try to prevent kicking or stepping on the headset, pouring fluids on it, or dropping it out of a window.
How do I keep the VR Headset clean?
You can clean the headset, but it is important to understand how to clean it before attempting.
Cleaning items include the following: microfiber cloth (included in the VR box), non-alcohol cleaning wipes such as baby wipes, and mild dish soap water with a washcloth towel.
Do not use products containing alcohol or antibacterial wipes to clean the headset.
Note the headsets include a VR face covers which can be removed and washed with soap and water. These headset covers are brand new.
Below are two links to videos that discuss maintenance and care of the Quest Headset. Meta/Oculus Quest Basics Tutorial Part 03: Maintenance & Care https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_u0DMMlYAU
Cleaning The Oculus Quest
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