Father attends birth of his son from 4,000 km away via Samsung VR

An Australian man working 4,000 kilometres from home attended the birth of his child in real-time using virtual reality.

Michelle Starr Science editor
Michelle Starr is CNET's science editor, and she hopes to get you as enthralled with the wonders of the universe as she is. When she's not daydreaming about flying through space, she's daydreaming about bats.
Michelle Starr
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It's a fact of life: sometimes, you just can't be there for the important stuff. This was the case for Perth, Australia couple Alison and Jace Larke, when Jace had an unavoidable work commitment at the time of his baby's dude date that would place him 4,000 km (2,485 miles) away in the remote Queensland mining town of Chinchilla.

Yet, even though the electrical engineering contractor couldn't be there in person he was still able to attend the birth of his third child, son Steele, when he was born in a Perth hospital on February 20, 2015 by using virtual reality.

Of course, this couldn't be done without some help. A team from Samsung set up cameras, audio and streaming equipment in Alison's Perth hospital room, paired with a Samsung Gear VR headset in Chinchilla. When Jace got the call, he went to a special room Samsung had set up, and was able to not just view the room in real-time, but interact with Alison.

"After we found out I was five weeks pregnant with our third child, we watched our baby grow, found out he was a boy and dreamed about what the future may hold. Then at 30 weeks pregnant, Jace's contract roster was confirmed and it was more than likely he would miss the birth of our baby, pending a miracle. But that's exactly what we got," Alison said.

"We were given the opportunity to be involved in the Samsung project. Jace was able to see our son born and experience the birth as if he was in the room with me even though he was working away on the other side of the country. For me it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders knowing he would not be missing out on such a precious moment in our lives and we would virtually be experiencing the birth together. It has been an absolutely amazing, once in a life time experience that has changed our lives forever."

This experience, Samsung said, is proof that virtual reality isn't just a toy -- it can also enable the sharing of important moments from across great distances.

"As one of the leaders in technology innovation, Samsung wanted to demonstrate the potential of virtual reality and how this unique technology can address real challenges people face every day," Samsung chief marketing officer Arno Lenior said.

"Through Alison and Jason's story, we're excited to be able to demonstrate how technology can help tackle the tyranny of distance and bring our loved ones closer."