New Horizons uses VR to improve national park access for people with disability + mobility issues with the launch of ‘Parallel Parks’ via Mammal
Today sees the launch of Parallel Parks, Australia’s first Virtual Reality (VR) project to enable people with disability and other mobility issues to experience previously inaccessible parts of our National Parks and so feel immersed in nature.
Parallel Parks was conceived by creative and technology agency Mammal Sydney for not-for-profit client New Horizons. It is designed to unlock the potential of VR to foster greater connection, inclusivity and access to the outdoors – all key elements of creating a sense of wellbeing, and all fundamental to happiness and positive mental health.
Over 12 months has been spent on development to date, with a crowd funding campaign now launching on new non-profit platform Enablr. Contributions will help to shoot additional VR footage and to assist with co-designing and refining of the VR product by people with disability.
To showcase the project’s potential, Sydney’s Martin Place has been transformed into a virtual park event, where members of the public can explore four of Australia’s finest national parks in virtual reality: Uluru-Kata Tjuta, Great Barrier Reef, Kangaroo Island and Murray River.
The project to date has involved significant collaboration between agencies, disability services, academia, government departments and environmental bodies. Sponsorship and support has been provided by numerous organisations, including NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), People & Parks Foundation (PPF), Tourism Australia, Hamilton Island, Qantas and Telstra.
New Horizons Clareville Villas resident Catherine Smith (pictured left) has tested the Parallel Parks prototype, saying: “I want more of it. You’re on the right track with the development, it’s a big thumbs-up from me.”
Another Clareville resident, William Quong, adds: “My favourite is visiting the Great Barrier Reef. I love that you can go under water in that one, especially as I can’t take my wheelchair in the water – I can’t get it wet!”
Attendance at today’s launch event is free, with VR booths open in Martin Place from 8.30am to 4.30pm. All members of the public are welcome to come and experience the potential for VR to contribute to the wellbeing of anyone with mobility issues.
Creative – James Gillespie, Daffers Little-Jones, Mike Watts, Luke Chess
Design – Mark Moss, Sam Princi, Dane Kirkland
Production and Project Management – Belle Oliva, Adrian Leppard
Head of Marketing – Ryan Watson
Corporate Partnerships Manager – Kim Gracey
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