New York Times Uses AR To Tell Story Of Thailand Cave Rescue

The New York Times visualizes the extremely dangerous conditions Thailand Cave rescuers dealt with during the rescue of the Wild Boars soccer team using AR.

It was a story that had everyone glued to the news for minute-by-minute updates.  The Wild Boars soccer team and their coach had been trapped in the Tham Luang Cave’s in Thailand for 18 days. With the teams survival in question and time running out, a dangerous rescue plan was hatched that would put both the rescuers and the soccer team in danger.

The operation meant sending expert divers into a cave with tunnels only 15-inch wide. There they would then have to navigate an underground chamber and maneuver themselves through dark spaces so incredibly tight that divers would have to remove their oxygen tanks and either push them ahead or tow them behind. All of this happening while simultaneously assisting each boy and their scuba tank one by one.

To help you understand just how crazy dangerous this rescue mission was, the New York Times have created an AR experience that shows you the very same tunnels rescuers were forced to make their way through in order to save the team, giving users a clear idea of the tight conditions expert divers were dealing with.

The AR/VR app – which can be found in the menu of the official New York Times app – adds an additional layer of the reporting that gives readers a visual companion to the storytelling.

Using the New York Times AR app, you are presented with the text of the story, and as you read through the details and scroll down, the app will then automatically launch your camera and ask you to scan your environment to pin the AR experience onto your surroundings.  From there, you will get what looks like a completely black screen with cutouts that represent the same dimensions of the extremely claustrophobic tunnels rescuers had traversed.

This isn’t the first AR experience for the New York Times. The Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper has launched six experiences prior to this latest addition, however this is the first AR experience to revolve around something other than 3D AR models.

For the New York Times, AR is not only about providing readers with a more immersive and empathetic storytelling experience – it’s about delivering the news in a way that feels more intuitive to their readers.

The New York Times isn’t the only media company turning to a form of mixed reality to report the news. The Washington Post, Time Magazine, and USA Today have all turned to AR in order to deliver information to readers and viewers.  One of the most impressive AR examples being the Weather Channel’s recent use of mixed reality, as well as some stellar acting from weather expert, Jim Cantore, to educate viewers on how dangerous tornadoes can be.

According to a New York Times article published back in February, the goal of AR enhanced news reporting is to expand the readers connection with the story by creating a bridge between your physical and digital worlds.

The New York Times app is available now for iOS and Android devices.

Image Credit: The New York Times


About the Scout

Bobby Carlton

Hello, my name is Bobby Carlton. When I'm not exploring the world of immersive technology, I'm writing rock songs about lost love. I'd also like to mention that I can do 25 push-ups in a row.

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