Oculus Rift Helps An Elderly Woman Walk Outside One Last Time Using Tuscany Demo [VIDEO]

By Alex Wolfe , Updated Apr 19, 2014 11:48 AM EDT
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Most stories about the Oculus Rift lately have been critical of its $2 billion sale to Facebook, but this is not one of those stories. Get your tissues ready, because this one will melt your heart.

Roberta Firstenberg was dying of cancer at the end of last year. After rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, doctors had determined that she was beyond the point of no return, and she was given a limited window to live.

Once the diagnosis came in, Roberta's granddaughter Priscilla moved in to take care of her. After a conversation one night where Pri - a game developer - had learned that her grandmother wanted nothing more than to go outside again, she had an idea the next day at work while arguing over next-gen consoles. Pri was offering her support to the Rift, against her coworkers talking about the Xbox One and PS4.

"As I brought up more points about the Rift, it suddenly clicked - there might as well have been a literal light bulb above my head - traveling, going outside, just sitting in a chair, etc," Pri told The Rift Arcade. "That night I went out on a limb and emailed the support center for the Oculus Rift."

Oculus came back and surprised her, sending a very nice email stating that they could not send her a brand new unit because they were backlogged, but they would send her a developer loaner kit that had just been sent back.

"I pretty much cried at my desk reading it," Pri told Rift Arcade.

So, a few days later a dev kit arrived at their doorstep, and Pri loaded up the Tuscany demo for Roberta, who was amazed at the ability to do something as simple as walk up steps again.

A few days later, Pri loaded up Google Maps Street View for her grandmother, who had actually waved to the Street View camera as it had driven by a number of years before.

"That night, Pri loaded up Street View and handed the Rift headset to her grandma," Rift Arcade reports. "'I could see her smile really wide as she looked around. She smiled as she looked herself up and down, but then it started to fade as she remarked: I look so healthy there...' Standing behind Roberta is Spec, her dog who had died just months earlier. 'Look how young Spec is,' Roberta said, then asked Pri to stop the feed. As she wiped away a tear it was obvious she'd had enough for the day."

Roberta went all over Street View for a while, checking out places she had never seen before. She died four weeks after her first using of the Rift, but using it gave her an experience that she otherwise never would have been able to have in her state.

Definitely go read this story over at The Rift Arcade, because the whole story is extremely touching. It's not exactly "hardcore gaming" on the Rift, but this is easily one of the more touching uses for it that I've heard yet. Check out the video below of Roberta using it for the first time, and maybe get out a second box of tissues just to be safe.

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