Back in August, virtual reality tech gave us a peek into how the Obamas spent a recent vacation when Oculus and directors Felix & Paul traveled alongside them during a trip to Yosemite. Now, before the first family says farewell, the same team is back to give us one last look at their home of the past eight years in VR with "The People's House: Inside the White House With Barack and Michelle Obama."
"This house belongs to you and every American," the President's V.O. says alongside an outside scene of the White House. He goes on to recount the history behind its construction -- designed by an Irish immigrant and built by slaves --- and the honorable intentions our founding fathers had for the building. "On his second day living here, John Adams wrote a letter to his wife Abigail, praying that only honest and wise leaders would rule under this roof."
Available on Facebook 360, on Oculus through the Rift and Samsung Gear, the experience then takes the viewer through nine areas of the venerable building, through the eyes of President Obama and the First Lady.
"Michelle and I always joke, we're just renters here," Obama says from the Oval Office. "The owners are the American people and all those invested in creating this amazing place with so much history. What we want to do is make sure that everybody felt they had access to it ... that as many people as possible could come in and appreciate the place where Lincoln or FDR or Reagan had made decisions that helped to shape America."
It's the Oval Office that the POTUS says turned out to be a lot smaller and more intimate than he expected, where from his desk he (and the viewer) can see the busts of Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln, and from the window behind him, his daughters' swing set. There's also the Situation Room, which is actually a series of rooms in the basement of the West Wing. Mrs. Obama takes us into other areas including the East Room, where the family has hosted public events with celebrities like Itzhak Perlman and Stevie Wonder but also where historical legislation has been signed into action -- including the Civil Rights Act under President Johnson and the Affordable Care Act, under Obama.
Throughout, the viewer hears the eloquent reminiscing of both the POTUS and first lady, and it's hard not to get emotional as they reflect on how the White House turned for them from museum to a true home -- and the memories that shaped their lives there.
"Every president moves to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with the full awareness that it is a temporary address," the President says. "In our time here we've made great friends, great progress. This is where we watched our daughters grow up … where we got to meet talented devoted, optimistic Americans from every corner of the country and every station of life. Because as beautiful as these buildings are, it's the people in them and the work that's done here, the triumphs and tragedies you experience over the course of your years here -- that's what imbues a place with meaning."