Virtual reality can be a whole lot of fun. You can play games wearing a VR headset, or virtually visit places you wouldn’t be able to see otherwise. You can learn to operate heavy machinery, or watch a concert.
But VR can also show us the horrors of life. The technology has long been seen as a tool for things like combating PTSD. And now, it’s being used to bring viewers into the middle of one of the worst events in human history–the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945.
As the Associated Press reports today–a day after the 73rd anniversary of the bombing–a group of Japanese high school students built a VR experience that immerses viewers in the moments before, during, and after the world-changing attack. The project isn’t quite finished, and the students hope to complete it soon so that remaining survivors can view it.
Built for HTC’s high-end Vive system, the experience shows Hiroshima before the bombing. Then you see a plane high in the sky. And then the flash of the bomb detonating, and the city being flattened in front of your eyes.
“Even without language, once you see the images, you understand,” Mei Okada, one of the students behind the project, tells the AP. “That is definitely one of the merits of this VR experience.”
One of the nice things about the project is that it was designed to let people walk around the famous city, and even go inside some of its buildings.
As with VR projects that aim to help people understand what the world is like in someone else’s shoes–for example, being on the receiving end of racist or sexually harassing comments–this effort could make it easier to see why nuclear weapons should be banned forever. Here’s hoping.