Gannett Company this week previewed its first project that allows readers to experience a news story in virtual reality. The project – produced by Gannett’s digital division and the Des Moines Register — requires users to wear a futuristic headset called the Oculus Rift, a small goggles-style video device that responds to the wearer’s head movements. While the Rift is primarily marketed for gaming – allowing users to flee blood-thirsty aliens or control a 250-story fighting robot, Gannett’s project is significantly less harrowing. Part of a Register special report on Iowa agriculture, the company’s first virtual reality presentation is a 3-D immersive walking tour of a southwest Iowa family farm. Headset-clad users can watch a tractor being repaired, tag along as a child walks a baby calf, and see a variety of other farm activities depicted in computer animation, videos, and photographs.

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