Watch as a Mother Reunites With Her Deceased Daughter in Virtual Reality
Back in 2016, Jang Ji-sung’s daughter Nayeon who was only seven years old passed away from an incurable disease. However, three years later she was reunited with her daughter –well, kind of- Jang entered into a virtual world created for almost impossible documentary that has been televised.
The Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation gave viewers a clip from their special called “I Met You,” on their YouTube channel with footage that blurs the line between the virtual world and the real world. In the clip Jang is standing in front of a large green screen, equipped with a virtual reality headset and a pair of haptic gloves. Later on in the video you can see Jan not only talk to her daughter but also hold her hands, and even celebrate her birthday.
This virtual reunion is exactly as emotional as you would imagine, and Jang immediately begins crying when she sees her virtual daughter. This is all happening while her father, brother, and sister watch them as they wipe away tears.
According to Aju Business Daily, Jang says “Maybe it’s a real paradise. I met Nayeon, who called me with a smile, for a very short time, but it’s a very happy time. I think I’ve had the dream I’ve always wanted.” Aju Business Daily said their team worked on the production for eight months and designed this virtual world based on a park that Jang and Nayeon visited while she was still alive. They implemented motion sensor technology that recorded the movements of a child actor who was used as the model for the virtual Nayeon.
All that said, the process was not going to be easy and the finished product may not have been perfect, but they now have the technology to virtually raise the dead. It was real enough to make Jang and her family break out in tears. However, what effects the use of this kind of technology will have is impossible to predict.
This time it may have taken a whole team eight months to produce the footage for “I Met You”, but how long until we can start uploading footage of relatives who have passed and start interacting with them in virtual reality? Not to mention what kind of impact is this going to have on the grieving process? Would seeing a loved one in virtual reality help people with closure and help them move past their death? Or will people become addicted to this virtual world and start spending more time in the virtual world than in the real one?
What about moving further into the future? Will this stop in virtual reality or will it move towards robots who are created to impersonate the loved ones who have passed on, creating “avatars” of the deceased. There are companies out there who are already doing this. Multiple startups have already broken ground for this eerie future. The most vital part of the virtual reality being a positive event, the surviving person must have completely accepted the passing of their loved one.
“Since you know the person is gone, you accept the virtual equivalent for what it is – a comforting vestige,” says Michael Graziano who is a Princeton neuroscientist, “There is nothing wrong or unethical about it.” Regulation of this technology will be imperative and letting these startups just freely allow customers to virtually visit their diseased relatives without some kind of screening with a psychologist could be dangerous.
It’s not easy to say what the effects of these types of interactions might be, and this is very new technology, but time will tell the effects of this new technology and these questions about it are going to need to be answered sooner rather than later.