Using virtual reality to swim with dolphins

A dream for many people is to swim with dolphins but jumping into the water with these, sometimes, captive animals has become a challenge for people as environmentalists consider it a cruel act.

However, The Dolphin Swim Club (DSC), which is a Dutch non-profit organisation, has discovered a fitting way to unite people with the aquatic mammals. This was achieved through the use of virtual reality (VR).

Artist Marijke Sjollema conceived the idea for the DSC after having an encounter with a dolphin in 1993 and since then, her and her husband, Benno Brada, have put a lot of time and energy into enabling everyone to have their own dolphin encounters and feel VR is the way to go.

VR is a form of computer technology that uses headsets to generate realistic images or sounds before your very eyes and the DSC have managed to implement this technology into their organisation.

The DSC have constructed their own pair of pool-safe VR goggles consisting of a waterproof Samsung phone in a waterproof case which was mounted on a 3D-printed mask made of used plastics.

The VR goggles are in the trial stage as of right now but Johan Elbers, policy advisor at the Heeren Loo organisation who are the team testing this device, has described numerous benefits of the technology.

He explained: “It takes them away from the world they are in, they enter a new world in another mindset, think differently, feel differently, see differently, and relax completely.”

VR is a hugely popular form of technology and the DSC’s work bringing people, especially those with disabilities, closer to an exciting experience in an immersive world.

This is apparent with Sarah, 34, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, which attacks the nerves in the brain and spinal cord making her unable to walk and she must use a computer to talk.

She explained: “Virtual reality made me feel able bodied again after 16 years. I love technology and I think virtual reality has so much potential for disabled people.”