What better way to experience the upcoming presidential debates than getting up close and personal with the candidates in virtual reality.
NBC (NBC) and virtual reality software company AltspaceVR said Wednesday that they would live stream the presidential debates between Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in 360 degrees.
Viewers who have VR headsets like Facebook’s (FB) Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive, the Samsung Gear VR and the AltspaceVR app will be able to stream the debates in 360 degrees in addition to being able to watch some VR extras.
Although previous political debates like the Democrat’s last fall were streamed in 360 degrees, NBC raised the bar this time by also creating some custom VR programming to accompany this year’s political pageantry. NBC said it recreated New York City’s iconic Rockefeller Center in virtual reality and renamed it Democracy Plaza, which it describes as “an interactive celebration of American citizenship and our political history.”
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While in the virtual plaza, viewers will be able participate in so-called “debate watch parties” where they can chat with friends, watch political comedy shows, and participate in live question and answer segments with political experts.
The standout feature, however, is supposedly a virtual reality recreation of anchorman Al Roker, who NBC said is “the mayor of our TODAY plaza” and will host a special kick-off event where he’ll talk about the plaza and the debates and answer questions from the viewing audience. People interested in watching Al Roker’s virtual reality avatar, which looks cartoonish and friendly, must register to watch, as they are required to do so per each individual VR extra.
“Like he does every morning on the TODAY show, NBC’s Al Roker will greet fans, answer questions and chat about his favorite moments on the broadcast – this time in virtual reality,” NBC wrote in a promotional blurb.
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NBC’s VR extravaganza will continue throughout the rest of the election cycle, culminating on election night, Nov. 8. MSNBC political writer and host Steve Kornacki as well as CNBC correspondent Sharon Epperson are also listed as participants of NBC’s VR project, but the network did not say if they have been recreated into VR avatars like Roker.
NBC said that people without headsets can still watch the virtual reality presentation on PC and Mac computers, but that it would be streamed in 2D.