Struggles 
 
 

Struggles of the working poor highlighted through AR

The working poor comprises 25% of the world’s homeless population having to cope with a steep rise in the cost of living and stagnant wage growth. One of the biggest advantages offered by AR and VR is to be able to emulate situations allowing users to experience different worlds in different perspectives in real time

One of the most popular AR experience entitled ‘In Someone Else’s Shoes’ depicts the life of Jen a 35-year-old full-time nurse’s assistant who has to live in her car because she could not afford to rent a house. Every day is a new challenge that threatens her staggering financial situation. It can surface in the form of a broken window or lack of a parking lot any of which could leave her in penury.

The experience was created by Santander along with Arnold Worldwide. It starts with a short film that introduces us to the protagonist Jen as she wakes up from another long night in her car and from there it switches to AR providing you a new perspective into Jen’s life. As we progress through the experience along with her daily routine, when she goes for work, having to deal with car break-ins and at times while returning to her car to see a wheel clamp – is when the harsh reality of her life begins to sink in.

Users have the flexibility of moving around to inspect her car and take account of each and every detail of a scene. And all this while she talks about her in the background about some lessons and rules she has learned from living in the streets alone in her car and the tale of her desperate life. You can see the heartbreaking responses of the AR participants as they begin to empathize with the character and start connecting with them on an emotional level.

People who have experienced Santander’s “In Someone Else’s Shoes” app would have experienced that unique and powerful opportunity to walk in other people's shoes. Though many times in real life we have walked by people asking for help or the homeless because it makes us uncomfortable. Even if the AR experience uses an actor, the situations are very realistic and it helps to connect with the emotions as they say 'Visual has power’.

In a classical move to make a difference, Santander invited people throughout Boston to help the working homeless by using a pedometer app to track their steps. In return, Santander would donate $10 for every mile the participants walked. The event helped raise $2,00,000 giving ‘Heading Home’, a Boston based non-profit organization involved in ending homelessness in Boston the opportunity to help 200 people who were in need.

Since 2016, many organizations have taken to AR and VR to get people exposed to different perspectives. The United Nations uses VR for ‘Clouds Over Sidra’, which helped raise funds for the Syrian refugees. Most recently, the Red Cross has also used AR to show the harsh reality of war and its effect on children with ‘Enter The Room’.

The experiences are very close to what one would really go through at trying and harrowing situations like these. This is actually what  Santander hopes to give through the AR experience. It will help drive a fresh perspective, as well as a new-found motivation to help make a change.

To go through the actual experience, try the app “In Someone Else’s Shoes”, which is now available on the Apple iOS App Store and Android Play store.

Shaibana S Shaibana S on December 9, 2018

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