Full Immersion

SI’s Swimsuit Models and Virtual Reality, a Match Made in Paradise


February 16, 2016 Tech By
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Virtual reality continues to break new ground. In a year that’s seen VR headsets sell like hotcakes (as with the Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard), the launch of a VR-driven drone racing league, continued hype for the Oculus Rift (slated to release on March 28th) and Samsung’s upcoming virtual reality film studio in New York City, it’s hard to believe VR could outdo itself. And yet, in curvy glory, it has. The pages of Sports Illustrated‘s annual Swimsuit Issue can now come to life through the powers of 360-degree video.

For the first time, SI is allowing readers to experience the beautiful set locations — and the gorgeous models — like never before. The publication has partnered with innovative VR firm WEVR, and shot original content exclusively for virtual reality. The 2016 Swimsuit Issue, which SI dropped alongside the iOS and Android apps, comes with cardboard headsets, and model Nina Agdal will gladly help you assemble the VR setup.

Buying the magazine (for $10) will get you a cardboard VR set, and if you already have a Google Cardboard headset, that works, too. The apps are free, and SI is allowing non-subscribers and those who haven’t bought the issue to view the immersive swimsuit experience — but that content costs a small fee ($4.99). The videos (each a few minutes long) feature models like Irina Shayk, Hannah Davis and Agdal seducing the cameras in next to nothing, and, beyond the unabashed sexuality, is, in fact, a move in the right direction for VR and 360-degree video.

While not exactly trailblazing (The New York Times shipped a million cardboard headsets to its print subscribers this past November), SI‘s use of VR technology pushes the tech further and further into the mainstream consumer base. This only helps the chances that users will be intrigued enough to splurge on more immersive technologies in the future, like Samsung’s Gear VR, Zeiss’s VROne and the upcoming Oculus Rift. Or, for those who don’t get hooked, well, shelling out a few bucks to see nearly naked models strut on beach isn’t so bad either.