How the Oculus Rift helped Roberta Firstenberg battle cancer
By the end of 2013, Roberta Firstenberg was losing her battle with cancer. After several months of radiation therapy and chemotherapy, she was told that the treatments were no longer effective. It was around this time that her granddaughter, Priscilla Firstenberg – a 2D and 3D video game artist – moved in to help take care of her. Pri would come home after work each night and sit with her grandma. The two would talk long into the evening until Roberta fell asleep. It was during this time that Pri decided to record her grandma’s most cherished memories and stories. One night, Roberta revealed an usual dream she’d had, where a future, time travelling version of Pri and her sister came to visit. They promised to take Roberta back into the future and cure her cancer, using a time travelling chair that would also enable her to explore and see the world once again. Roberta remarked how she missed the outside world, in particular how she could no longer step into her own yard. Her favourite pastime was caring for the garden.
[The Oculus Rift support team sent Priscilla and Roberta a development kit. Subsequently, Priscilla discovered her grandmother had also been photographed by a Google car, and appeared in Google Street View - the screenshot above, in the Oculus version.]
That night, Pri loaded up Street View and handed the Rift headset to her grandma. “I could see her smile really wide as she looked around. She smiled as she looked herself up and down, but then it started to fade as she remarked: I look so healthy there…” Standing behind Roberta is Spec, her dog who had died just months earlier. “Look how young Spec is,” Roberta said, then asked Pri to stop the feed. As she wiped away a tear it was obvious she’d had enough for the day.
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