There’s nothing more inspiring for us than seeing how creators are using Unity to produce world-changing games, films, and XR experiences. We created the Unity for Humanity 2019 Challenge to recognize and support some of the incredible socially conscious experiences people are making with Unity.
Unity for Humanity invites creators to submit projects in production or development that address social and environmental issues and offer impactful solutions. In January and February 2019, we received over 200 eligible submissions, and we were blown away by the innovation and high-impact storytelling we saw.
After much deliberation, we are thrilled to award this year’s prize to Richard Nockles, Dan Stankowski, and Niru Fekri Arnold, the core team behind the mobile augmented reality (AR) tool Clean A\R. The mobile app, pronounced “Clean Air,” lets users visualize the air pollution around them by displaying an AR smog effect.
“The app is linked to hundreds of state-of-the-art air-quality monitoring stations,” says Nockles, Clean A\R’s creative director and founder of Surround Vision, a studio developing a suite of XR tools for environmental advocacy. He hopes that Clean A\R “will help raise awareness about the dangers of exposure to city pollution, and make it easy to share pollution findings and put pressure on local politicians.”
See how the winning team is using Clean A\R and XR to reinvent the environmental documentary format.
XR is fast becoming a powerful way to effect change, amplified by its accessibility on mobile platforms. By placing these tools in everyone’s hands, it’s easier for people to spread their passion for social issues.
“Air pollution is killing us,” Nockles explains. “More than 400,000 early deaths are caused each year in Europe. It’s known as the ‘invisible killer,’ and its impact on our lives is projected to double by 2050. The UK is particularly bad, but the majority of British people don’t recognize the danger because they can’t see it. But what if we could see the poison surrounding us?”
Clean A/R is a tool that informs users about their otherwise invisible surrounding air quality.
Clean A\R lets them do just that. The mobile application enables people to share their local experience and pollution measurements on social media to generate greater awareness and, hopefully, stimulate policy change.
Creating impact and awareness
Alongside the winner, we’re celebrating the work of five inspired and inspiring finalists who have been awarded an honorable mention prize. Their projects range from a cinematic VR twist on Alice in Wonderland designed to promote awareness about social media addiction, to a multiplayer game that helps citizens speak out about gentrification in their communities.
Finding Alice is a cinematic VR experience created to raise awareness about social media addiction.
Each of these projects is distinguished by a strong call to action that fosters tangible impact. Clarity of purpose gives these projects the capacity to change perspectives, habits, and even government policy by making actionable outcomes easy to access, while the immersive nature of XR formats encourages public sympathy and identification.
Atomu: an experience that transports users into a Kenyan myth about gender fluidity.
“Delivering high-end VR and AR experiences can bring a fresh perspective on environmental issues,” explains Dan Stankowski, Clean A\R’s lead developer. “What’s more impressive is that the engagement levels are through the roof. We’ve found that the tools can create serious impact, opening people’s hearts and minds.”
The team at Surround Vision finds that XR and other immersive experiences have a unique potential for nurturing social change. “User testing shows that VR engages on a deeper level, with positive results in education, influence, and behavioral change,” Nockles explains, noting how it’s often referred to as an “empathy machine.”
As activism and advocacy content continues to be developed and refined, greater numbers of communities, non-profits, educators, and researchers are turning to XR platforms. By offering wider access to these tools, we want to help everyday citizens deliver their messages in a way that generates real impact and positive change.
Meet the winner and finalists of Unity for Humanity 2019 and stay tuned for news about next year’s edition.