Home maintains the BBC’s long history of innovation in how it informs, educates and entertains. VR at the BBC is about exploration and understanding the new medium and its audience. Home has led the way, both inside and out of the BBC, in exploring not just the technology, but the emerging language of storytelling in the medium.
The experience is developed in Unreal Engine 4 to push for the highest possible visual fidelity and is accompanied with treated, spatial audio. The team worked with script writer Marco Crivellari to develop the narrative and consulted with ESA experts and astronauts. The experience encompasses randomised views of the earth and atmospheric phenomenon. The ISS was constructed using a Haynes Manual – the most detailed and accurate plan you can find – and built to real-world scale.
Bluetooth heart rate monitors feed back into the experience, recreating the sound of your own heartbeat. This is combined with an integrated live mic for the user that is acoustically treated and delivered back into the experience. The ambient sound is spatial and creates the claustrophobia of the astronaut’s helmet and the unnerving sounds of your own body and your space suit’s life support system. A gaming chair is also used to provide haptic feedback. Finally, for selected live viewings, a live voice actor is incorporated, who is able to ad-lib on the script, conversing with the player and observing and responding to their predicament.