One of the frequently cited uses for virtual reality is building empathy by immersing users in the viewpoint of others. Google today is doubling down on that VR use with Daydream Impact — a training program that provides equipment to various organizations.

In announcing the initiative, Google notes that “Virtual reality can help people learn more and feel a part of important but distant problems.”

It’s one thing to read a news report about polar ice caps melting, but it’s another to hear the wind whipping against a towering glacier as you watch huge chunks of ice break off and tumble into the water below. With VR video, it’s possible to experience things that are rare or places that are far away or even impossible to get to.

However, many organizations do not have the resources or knowledge to leverage VR in their projects. Daydream Impact hopes to solve both those problems.

The first step is a VR filmmaking course available on Coursera that covers “basic hardware requirements and pre-production checklists,” as well as tips on VR and best practices. There is also training on post-production editing and the best ways to publish and promote VR content.

Secondly, Google is launching a six-month loaner program for “qualified projects” that issues a Jump Odyssey Camera and free unlimited server-side video stitching, as well as other equipment to view and share the video: Expeditions kit, Daydream View, and a Pixel.

Google has been working with the following organizations to “shape and refine” Daydream Impact, with initial projects covering anti-bullying, Eastern Congo, and rising sea levels. These works are available now and can be viewed on the Daydream Impact site.

In 2018, the program will work with World Wildlife Fund & Condition One, UNAIDS, the International Committee of the Red Cross, Starlight Children’s Foundation, Protect our Winters, and Novo Media.

In the meantime, the courses are live, while organizations can apply now to get equipment.

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Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: