Google AR and VR

Using VR to shed light on conflict zones across the globe

Virtual reality allows us to step inside a story to understand a particular issue by creating connections to people and places we may otherwise never see. In a new virtual reality project, we’re stepping into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a place where the metals that make up our electronics—tantalum, tin, tungsten, and gold—are mined.

Referred to as “3TG,” these metals have become known as “conflict minerals” because they’re sourced from areas where a decades-long civil war continues. Gold has been particularly challenging to source responsibly in the Congo and the surrounding region, due to high rates of illegal mining and smuggling. As part of Google’s conflict minerals program, we partner with governmental organizations, industry groups and non-governmental organizations to aid conflict-free sourcing, which leads to economic growth and development in the region.

To highlight the importance and benefits of responsible sourcing in the region, we partnered with the Responsible Artisanal Gold Solutions Forum and StoryUp XR to create “The Journey of Gold,” a VR film that takes you into a gold mine in the DRC. Filmed using Jump cameras and available on Discovery VR and YouTube, the film showcases how the Nyamurhale mine—which once sold illegally mined, taxed and smuggled gold—has implemented systems to aid conflict-free gold sourcing.

The film’s opening line reminds us that “every day you may hold a piece of the Congo in the palm of your hand.” Though the region may seem far away, it’s essential to create more awareness around how its resources get from a mine in the Congo to the phones and devices we use every day. Join the campaign and watch the film now on Discovery VR or YouTube using a VR viewer like Google Cardboard or Daydream View.