Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - VR offers alternative to ‘stay home’ mantra



VR offers alternative to ‘stay home’ mantra

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
With a slowdown in all such activities under the circumstances, virtual reality (VR) technology can help return such activities for those who are forced to stay home. AFP

VR offers alternative to ‘stay home’ mantra

There was a time not too long ago when Cambodians and tourists enjoyed the open spaces and the world outside of their homes.

Visits to temples and beautiful beaches that bring with them crystal clear waters, waves and cool winds that blow away boredom as one enjoys the white sandy beaches and gets the soul refreshed from the rat race.

Divers enjoyed getting up close to see marine life in the seas off Preah Sihanouk, Kep, Kampot and Koh Kong provinces.

For early morning outings, locals and tourists rushed to get in the best position to view the sun rising above the Angkor Wat or view the sunset at its best at the Bakheng, Bakong, and Phnom Krom temples.

But all that is gone. “Stay home” seems to be the order of the day for governments around the world to enforce lockdowns to stem the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In Cambodia, people are discouraged from travelling or attending gatherings unless it is critical. The government has issued various measures, shutting down schools, museums, beer gardens, KTV, casinos and more.

However, not all is lost. With a slowdown in all such activities under the circumstances, virtual reality (VR) technology can help return such activities for those who are forced to stay home for days, weeks or even months.

“For instance, if you want to visit Angkor Wat, or enjoy the beaches and islands, or visit other cities around the world such as Paris, Sydney, and elsewhere, or even dive in the sea with marine life, then VR is the way to go,” says Saraboth Ea who founded Virtual Reality Cambodia and is the director of Hiverlab Cambodia.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Saraboth Ea founded Virtual Reality Cambodia primarily because of the passion he has for the technology and the potential it has to transform the way people interact with the world using digital technology. Hong Menea

He says people are now feeling bored, stressed and isolated since they can’t hang out with friends or travel anywhere they like, especially to visit the natural resorts that Cambodia is famous for.

“Some people, who stay home for many days feel miserable as they are restricted from meeting friends and relatives as they used to.

“VR technology can help them release stress and find new friends,” says Ea, a former refugee who fled the country during the Khmer Rouge era of the 1970s and settled in the US.

Ea worked as a professional in finance, banking and real estate in the US for nearly 30 years before returning to Cambodia.

He now offers VR tech services for public and private events and tells The Post: “Social applications allow you to keep in contact with other people like in the real world, but via VR technology.

“Through VR technology, one does not need to feel isolated anymore, and in fact can connect with others in the virtual world.

“The technology not only allows one to travel virtually but offers many other activities that are almost like real-life experiences.

“VR has many applications. In fact, you can go fishing from your living room, play tennis, golf, row a boat, drive your car and do many other things,” says Ea.

He says VR also offers experiences in different immersive technologies and allows one to carry out physical activities to remain fit.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Divers enjoyed getting up close to see marine life in the seas off Preah Sihanouk, Kep, Kampot and Koh Kong provinces. AFP

“As a result, VR improves mental and physical stress. We can enjoy workouts through activities on VR such as boxing, playing tennis or golf. Such social applications can benefit mental health by reducing stress and isolation,” says Ea.

However, the hundreds of activities that VR applications offer can only be accessed through devices that are imported into Cambodia. More importantly, VR technology is not cheap.

Ea founded Virtual Reality Cambodia primarily because of the passion he has for the technology and the potential it has to transform the way people interact with the world using digital technology.

He says that setting up VR devices at home requires a high-speed computer that costs thousands of dollars, a VR headset with sensors and other devices.

But, some of these devices are much cheaper as they do not require a computer or smartphone. All it needs is a VR headset without wires or sensor devices.

“Since we have to import these devices, a new VR headset can cost between $600 and $700 per set. But still, it is a far cheaper alternative as one does not require a computer or smartphone,” says Ea.

Ea realised that the high demand for such devices since more people were forced to stay at home. He imported a number of them and helped people cope with stress. But he admits that the imported products would take weeks or months to arrive.

“We have another option which is to buy cheap VR headsets which are already being sold in Cambodia. Such devices need to be connected to a smartphone. The downside is that they do not offer VR in its true form so activities are limited.

“We can try these devices though they are not of high quality and cost only about $20. But with such VR headsets, we can watch 3D movies and view simple VR pictures,” he says.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Hun Sen: Cambodia set to fully reopen

    Prime Minister Hun Sen concludes that the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, during which many people either flocked to their hometowns for family reunion or gathered at tourist attractions across the country, has not caused an outbreak of Covid-19. In a special address to

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the

  • S’ville set to turn into ‘second Shenzhen’

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance has awarded a master plan consultancy contract to top Chinese institute for the development and transformation of Preah Sihanouk province into a “Model Multi-Purpose Special Economic Zone”, Southeast Asia’s next logistics and resort hub and innovation centre. The