River Hongbao 2017: Virtual Sky Lanterns

The annual Chinese New Year celebration has gone high-tech with VR this year.

 

This Chinese New Year, you can release a “sky lantern” without a permit.

A virtual sky lantern that is.

At River Hongbao 2017, an annual festive celebration held at The Float @ Marina Bay, visitors can write their wishes on the virtual lanterns and release them to the night sky with a virtual reality (VR) app.

The God of Fortune stands tall as Singapore ushers in the Year of the Rooster. Photo by: Wong Si Jia

The God of Fortune stands tall as Singapore ushers in the Year of the Rooster. Photo by: Wong Si Jia

They can pan their phones to get a 360-degree view of the floating lanterns around them, or put on the VR goggles for an even more immersive experience.

Nestia, a local company, is the brain behind the VR app. This is introduced to the River Hongbao celebration for the first time in its 31-year history.

Panning the camera allows a 360-degree view of all nearby sky lanterns. Photo by: Wong Si Jia

Panning the camera allows a 360-degree view of all nearby sky lanterns. Photo by: Wong Si Jia

“We came up with the lantern idea, [because] Singapore doesn’t allow people to release sky lanterns,” said Nestia CEO Chen Ning, 46. “But the view is stunning in [places like] Chiang Mai, so we feel we should bring the experience here – not physically, but through this mobile app.”

The release of sky lanterns with people’s wishes written on their paper bodies is part of traditional celebrations in places such as Taiwan, Thailand and India. In Singapore, the practice is allowed only with a permit from the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore to minimize the chances of fire and environmental hazards.

Wishes being written on virtual sky lanterns through an interactive screen. Photo by: Wong Si Jia

Wishes being written on virtual sky lanterns through an interactive screen. Photo by: Wong Si Jia

As of Jan 26, around 9,200 virtual sky lanterns have been released via the interactive VR app in 10 days. Nestia hopes at least 50,000 wish-bearing lanterns will traverse the sky by the end of the event.

Mr Chen said the public can expect more technological additions to River Hongbao’s future editions.

River Hongbao 2017 will run from Jan 26 to Feb 4, 2pm to 11pm, at The Float @ Marina Bay.

 

About Sijia Wong

Just a geek who likes have her fun, Si Jia enjoys subjecting her friends to bad puns, dad jokes and cheesy pick-up lines. Even her writing is not spared – she loves to incorporate puns in her articles while coming up with witty titles. As a part-time contributor of CAMPUS magazine, a bi-monthly publication for tertiary students, Si Jia often has a chance to practice and improve her writing skills. In her spare time, she can be found playing badminton, watching anime, hanging out with her friends, or aggressively shouting at her laptop screen during video game sessions.