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AccuWeather's VR app is like dystopian design fiction
AccuWeather is releasing a virtual reality app for Gear VR, in what is either a strange novelty experiment or some remarkably dystopian social commentary.
The app is called “AccuWeather — Weather for Life,” and it provides two major features. The first is a library of 360-degree video for severe weather events, which will be updated weekly. The second is a service that provides current weather conditions, detailed hourly and daily forecasts, and the option to “uniquely experience an array of dynamic weather conditions” like storms and snowfall as they occur. AccuWeather says users can do this through daily forecasts or “a secret weather feature called WeatherScape.” As usual for Gear VR apps, it's available on recent Samsung flagship phones through the Oculus Store
The app is free, if you've got a Gear VR. And there are real benefits to simulating weather in virtual reality — Virginia Tech, for example, has used it to help researchers interact with a tornado visualization tool. An easily accessible weather widget would also be a neat addition to headset interfaces. That said, Weather for Life sounds like a parody app you'd find in Black Mirror or Ready Player One, where people can pretend to go outside while wasting away in VR. After all, who needs actual rain or sunshine when you're busy “experiencing weather in revolutionary new ways?” Until finally, as the Earth slowly floods and heats, AccuWeather will switch from live forecasts to a comforting lie: a constantly repeating loop of the weather-that-was. Our separation from reality will be complete.
The videos do sound cool, though.