Skip to main content

Dying grandmother uses Oculus Rift to walk outside again

Dying grandmother uses Oculus Rift to walk outside again

Share this story

Roberta Firstenberg had long loved walking outside and caring for her garden. However, a hard battle with cancer had weakened her so that going outside was no longer possible. In a bid to give her one more view of the outside world, Roberta's granddaughter Priscilla, an artist, programmed an Oculus rift to give her grandmother the chance to walk again.

As The Rift Arcade reports, Priscilla reached out to Oculus last fall in the hopes of getting a dev kit Roberta could use. With the help of the Oculus Tuscany demo, Roberta can be seen "gliding" around a Tuscan villa and talking excitedly about being able to climb stairs. "You can be in pain," she says, "but, somehow, when you see a blue butterfly reach out to kiss you... it makes you realize we are all a part of this world..."

Priscilla went on to help work on an experimental build filled with waterfalls and butterflies, but her grandmother's cancer spread before she could finish. Roberta passed four weeks later, but hopefully this experience was enough to ease some of her pain.

Update 5/2 4:00pm: A previous version of this article stated that Priscilla helped develop the program for her grandmother on Oculus. That was inaccurate. She helped with assets, but not with programming.