Virtual Forest provides a year round live VR experience of the Harvard Forest tracking the changing seasons up close in a digital form. Images stream live every 15 minutes from 4 am- 11 pm in the EST (GMT-5) time zone, and will be dark after sundown (sadly stars will not yet be picked up by the camera).

Experience the Virtual Forest

The Project

Virtual Forest is a project to bring a live digital feed of forest imagery to the VR world. Virtual Forest allows you to immersively track the seasons using 360 photography and time lapse movies of a forest in the North Eastern US. All media can be viewed in a regular browser, or on a mobile device supporting gyroscope feedback. For a complete immersive experience Virtual Forest supports Google Cardboard and Samsung GearVR. Additional support for VR headsets such as the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift is provided through the A-frame framework.

Why?

The project gives everyone the experience of tracking the seasons in a North Eastern deciduous forest through telepresence. It allows for leaf peeping from a distance and visualizes ecological processes using timelapse movies, speeding up an otherwise slow process. The images gathered will also support research efforts in understanding the timing of changes to the canopy structure. Above all, I hope Virtual Forest will inspire people to venture outdoors and explore a forest in real life as Virtual Forest remains a proxy for what is a wonderful world.

Who?

Virtual Forest is a project of Koen Hufkens. Hufkens is a Research Associate at Harvard University. His research focuses on understanding the relation between climate (change) and seasonal variability in vegetation growth. The data gathered within the context of the virtual forest project informs some of his research. I'm also a maker, software developer and interested in combining ecological research with emerging technologies.