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President Obama made another virtual reality video — this time to say good-bye to the White House

Oculus paid for the video in the hope that POTUS can help bring VR mainstream.


President Barack Obama is doing his part to bring virtual reality into the mainstream.

Obama, who moves out of the White House in a week, narrated and “starred” in a new VR film about the White House and all of its historic rooms. (First Lady Michelle Obama also participated.)

The eight-minute short film debuted Friday on Facebook as a 360-degree video, and a longer version will be released in virtual reality later this year.

The video was funded by Facebook-owned Oculus Studios, and produced by Félix & Paul Studios, the same folks who made a film about Obama’s trip to Yosemite National Park in June. Here he is watching himself in VR for the first time:

Pete Souza /

Getting the president to participate in VR films is somewhat impressive given how new virtual reality still is. Ryan Horrigan, chief content officer at Félix & Paul Studios, says it’s part of the White House’s continued effort to keep Obama on the forefront of technology. (They also launched a messaging bot, and Obama was the first president to use social networks like Twitter.)

Colum Slevin, head of experiences at Oculus, says conversations with the White House about getting Obama to do VR started almost a year ago, but it’s worth the time and money to get POTUS on camera.

Users won’t buy into VR if they don’t have good material to watch, Slevin explained, and Oculus is looking for a way to break outside of the gamer demographic that has driven most of the industry so far. Obama, and other well-known figures like the NBA’s LeBron James, can help bring VR mainstream.

“It broadened the appeal of the medium,” Slevin said of the first Obama VR video from last summer. “We certainly saw data that told us it made people realize there was more to VR than shooting things and flying things.” (Slevin didn’t share that data, though.)

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