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Experience the horror of Ebola in this new VR film

James Temperton

James Temperton


In a Liberian hospital a young woman comforts a child infected with the Ebola virus. She doesn't wear a protective suit or mask. Decontee Davis is one of the survivors of the virus, making her totally immune, and her story is the focus of a new virtual reality1 film produced for the United Nations2.

Waves of Grace, created by Gabo Arora and Chris Milk, is the second UN project from LA-based Vrse.works3.

It hopes to use VR to bring decision-makers and politicians closer to the issues they govern on, helping to finally explain the true horror of Ebola.

The short film, created in collaboration Vice Media, features scenes from a local market, a school and a town square -- but it is the eyes of the people that draw you into their haunting world. In a graveyard the viewer is positioned precariously over a freshly-dug grave while the latest Ebola victim is steadily lowered in.

In another scene the viewer is placed in the middle of a classroom. An enthusiastic group of children is taken through the alphabet, and you're sitting in one of their seats.

Waves of Grace Waves of

"You can quite literally make someone feel like they have been teleported to a destination," Patrick Milling Smith, co-founder of and producer on the film, tells WIRED. "This seems to be a medium that can completely stop you in your tracks."

The collaboration with the UN is part of a wider challenge to combat donor fatigue for humanity's biggest challenges.

The first film, Clouds Over Sidra4, debuted at Davos earlier this year and showed the heartbreaking conditions endured by refugees fleeing war in Syria.

Filmed using a purpose-built VR camera, the medium presents new possibilities for filmmakers and storytellers. Unlike photo essays and documentary films, in VR you are forced to twist and turn your head to take everything in. Quite quickly you forget you're not in Liberia.

"Someone is looking right at you, often very close, staring right into your eyes and the feeling is one of being seen or discovered, somehow complicit in the story or sharing a moment," says Milling Smith.

Waves of Grace Waves of

But ultimately this isn't a film about despair, it is a film about hope --  a hope that things can get better.

To date there have been roughly 27,500 confirmed, probable or suspected cases of Ebola in Africa, with a fatality rate of just under 50 percent. An estimated 30,000 children have been orphaned by the disease and more support from outside is urgently needed.

"You only need to witness people's reactions to their first VR experience to realise this is here to stay and going to have a profound impact," says Milling Smith. "You are sharing something quite profound with the people in the film."

Waves of Grace Waves of

In Waves of Grace the camera is constantly in the middle of things -- in a classroom, a makeshift graveyard, a hospital. People look you right in the eye, they sing and shout at you.

It is this closeness that makes Waves of Grave so affecting, and demonstrates that filmmakers are getting better results from the format.

For Milling Smith, the early success of VR filmmaking comes down to one moment:

"The result in this instance of being able to look directly into this girl's eyes is heart-stopping, arresting, profound and results in a human connectivity that I think is only possible in the medium of virtual reality."

Waves of Grace can be viewed on Google Cardboard or Samsung phones with the company's Gear VR.

It can also be viewed without a VR headset.

The film is available through the Vrse app for Android5 and iOS6, which is free to download.


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  2. ^ United Nations (
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  4. ^ Clouds Over Sidra (
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  6. ^ iOS (
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This week’s new singles reviewed: Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato, Macklemore

We review the latest single releases (August 28) with new tracks from Justin Bieber1, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, and Demi Lovato.
Justin Bieber 'What Do You Mean?' single artwork.
Justin Bieber: 'What Do You Mean?'
Even being Justin Bieber - with his looks, fame and money - doesn't mean he can understand the opposite sex. "Well, girls are often just flip-floppy," he recently complained on radio, giving context to his new single2 'What Do You Mean?' But despite his confused heart, when it comes to crafting a decent pop tune, the Canadian pin-up is well versed. Here he warms up his puzzlement with tropical panpipes and dusky beats, basking in the sunshine of his recent hit collaboration 'Where Are U Now'. By the end, it's a 3-minute holiday romance left unresolved, but one that glows with its simplicity.

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Macklemore and Ryan Lewis 'Downtown' single artwork.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis: 'Downtown'
Hot damn, 'Uptown Funk' has a lot to answer for.

Although Macklemore and Ryan Lewis's new single 'Downtown' suggests it's heading in the opposite direction, it has an uncanny resemblance to this year's biggest hit - but that's no bad thing at all. The Seattle stars have embraced the outlandish stadium rock of the '70s and mixed it with funky swagger and hip-hop beats, pulling together a pastiche of retro influences to backdrop Macklemore's quick wit to spectacular effect. Simply put: 'Uptown Funk' and 'Thrift Shop' had a baby, and you've just heard it.

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Demi Lovato 'Cool For The Summer' single artwork.
Demi Lovato: 'Cool For The Summer'
Don't let the title fool you; this song isn't the type of small talk you have with your neighbour over the garden fence when August turns out to be a bit chillier than you expected.

Nope, this is Demi Lovato turning the heat up on her career, shedding that Disney girl sheen for a bi-curious pop romp with rumbling guitars, strutting beats and more suggestive foreplay than a chapter from 50 Shades of Grey.

Move over Christian Grey, this song is more than capable of tying us up itself.

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  2. ^ giving context to his new single (
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Honor unveils new wearable, lets users decide name

On top of the Honor 71, Honor has also announced its very first wearable. The only thing is that it doesn't actually have a name yet. Provisionally dubbed the Honor Band, the Huawei-owned company will be letting its fans decide its official moniker in the run up to its launch in Q4 of this year. 

Costing just £60, the Honor Band is essentially a more attractive TalkBand B22 without the built-in Bluetooth headset.

It borrows the same touch-controlled UI as Huawei's fitness tracker and uses identical icons and graphics to display the time, track your steps, monitor your sleep and give you call notifications. However, the Honor Band is also rated as IP68 waterproof, so you can wear it in the bath or shower without damaging the unit. 

Designed with a slightly younger, more fashion-conscious audience in mind, the Honor Band will be available in two different strap sizes. The thinner white plastic band shown above, for instance, is intended to appeal to women, while the thicker black band is designed for men.

There will also be a choice of khaki as well, but it's currently unknown which size category it will fall into. 

As for the watch itself, its smooth, pebble shaped design sits very discreetly on the wrist, and its jet-black panel does a great job of masking its square display. Honor didn't mention what type of screen technology it uses, but I wouldn't be surprised if it uses a similar P-OLED panel to Huawei's TalkBand.

With no buttons, the Honor Hand is controlled entirely by swiping the touchscreen. However, when I tried it out for myself, it sometimes took a few goes for it to turn on, making it much more fiddly to operate than Huawei's TalkBand. 

That said, it's certainly a lot slimmer and more stylish than the TalkBand B2, and its tiny size actually makes it look like a smartwatch I might want to buy.

I'll have to wait and see how it fares in day to day use when I get one in for review later this year, but if this is a glimpse of what the future holds of Huawei's TalkBands, I'm all for it. 


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  2. ^ TalkBand B2 (
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The ‘perfect shirt’ for travellers fights body odour

Sweaty armpits while holding a handrail on a crowded train or being the "smelly one on a plane" can be avoided with a new high-performance shirt that will leave you "completely confident" wherever you are travelling, according to its designer.

Made with a lightweight yet durable “all natural high-performance” fabric with no chemical additives, the Libertad is made using advanced wool technology that creates ultra-fine Merino wool which “inhibits the growth of odour-causing bacteria” and is designed to regulate body temperature while absorbing moisture off the body, leaving you sweat- and odour-free for days wherever you are.

The 'most perfect shirt’ for travellers?  Photo:

The unique material “efficiently manages moisture” without gathering body odour, while the fiber’s natural crimp helps it to recover from any wrinkles and remain crease-free for longer than cotton. Three testers were said to have remained body odour-free after wearing the shirt in a tropical climate for five consecutive days.

The breathable and machine-washable shirt, launched on the crowd funding website Kickstarter this month, is said to feel soft against the skin and can be worn “comfortably” year-round, thanks to tiny air pockets that help keep you cool when it’s hot, and warm when it’s cold.

The 'most perfect shirt’ for travellers?The Libertad leaves you sweat- and odour-free for days wherever you are  Photo:

Available as either a regular or tapered fit in several colours and sizes, Libertad is also designed to be stain-resistant, fire-retardant and anti-static as well as offer UV protection.

The Libertad is the latest piece of "revolutionary" all-purpose clothing that has been proposed in recent years. Last month, the BauBax, a “Swiss Army knife”–style jacket1 equipped with enough gadgets for James Bond, claimed to provide everything a traveller might need.

Dubbed the "world's best travel jacket", it offers 15 built-in features including a neck pillow, hood, eye mask, gloves, drink holder and multiple compartments that can store full size tablets as well as phones, earphones, portable chargers and a small blanket.

The 'most perfect shirt’ for travellers?The BauBax jacket  Photo: BauBax

Last year, a multi-pocketed trench for women2 offered a surprisingly sleek solution to cutting airline baggage fees. Fit with 18 pocket that can carry all of your travel essentials including two mobile phones, a digital camera, an iPad, a water bottle, keys and passport, the SeV Womens’ Trench also has a ‘No Bulge’ design that is said to help users maintain a slim “figure-flattering” line.

It was also installed with ‘Weight Management System’ technology designed to evenly balance the weight of the items carried, and a ‘Personal Area Network (PAN)’ which allows travellers to run earphone wires from their mobile devices through hidden passages in the fabric.

The company also offers a range of travel-friendly coats and vests for men, including the Q.U.E.S.T. Vest for men, which has 42 pockets - the most of all the SeV jackets.

Several celebrities, including Hollywood actors Dustin Hoffman and Matthew McConaughey, as well as the American author Amy Tan, have been spotted wearing the versatile SeV coats.

The 'most perfect shirt’ for travellers?The SeV trench  Photo:

In 2011, the Rufus Roo3 - a vest jacket made from lightweight nylon designed simply to carry things - was created by Andrew Gaule, a traveller and full-time business consultant frustrated by rising baggage fees.

“We made them with big armholes, so you can slip them over the top of any coat you’re wearing, however bulky,” he said at the time.

“Or you can carry them like a shoulder bag.

The beauty is that they leave your hands free.

People often buy them to use instead of nappy bags, or take to festivals, or wear when they’re cycling,” he added.


  1. ^ “Swiss Army knife”–style jacket (
  2. ^ a multi-pocketed trench for women (
  3. ^ Rufus Roo (
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The autumn/winter men’s fashion hotlist

Catwalk trends

The key look: The catwalk can catapult some styles into every modern man’s wardrobe, while others crash and burn. The key trend to be gleaned from this season’s runway, which you too can wear with ease, is the polo neck – as seen at Margaret Howell, Hermès and Berluti, to name but a few. John Smedley, Marks & Spencer and Uniqlo all have great versions that will be hitting stores throughout the season.

But the surprise hit this autumn? The man-brooch. This one you should approach with caution.

The cool collaboration

Kolor x Adidas collaborative fusion of street and sportswearKolor x Adidas collaborative fusion of street and sportswear

Kolor x Adidas: The husband and wife Junichi and Chitose Abe, and their respective brands Kolor and Sacai, are the new darlings of Japanese design.

Junichi trained at Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo (whose alumni include Kenzo Takada and Yohji Yamamoto), and with Kolor focuses on fabrics, details and construction. Cue a collaboration with Adidas and you have the perfect fusion of street and sportswear. Climaheat fleeces have metallic funnel necks, running shorts come with built-in leggings, and the Ultra Boost colour-block trainers are supposed to maximise the wearer’s use of energy.

Available from September 25. From £70 for a T-shirt, adidas.com1.

The leather boys

Tote and rucksack from ShinolaTote and rucksack from Shinola

Shinola: It has been dubbed ‘America’s coolest brand’, so Shinola has a lot to live up to. The ‘made in US’ watch label has upped the ante by buying a leather factory in Detroit and installing Richard Lambertson and John Truex as co-creative directors of leather accessories.

The pair will also be teaching an accessories design degree at the local College for Creative Studies, so the longevity of the line seems assured. Tote, £855, rucksack, £855, shinola.com2.

The new classic

London Undercover's camourflage umbrellaLondon Undercover's camourflage umbrella

London Undercover: In 2008 Jamie Milestone, London Undercover’s founder, quit his job to pursue the gap in the market for handsome umbrellas that don’t cost the earth. Handmade in Bethnal Green, the brollies are made from recycled plastics.

Past collaborators have included Manolo Blahnik, while this season he is teaming up with Pharrell’s Billionaire Boys Club. Camouflage umbrella, £165,

One to watch

From Grace Wales Bonner's Ebonics collectionFrom Grace Wales Bonner's Ebonics collection

Wales Bonner: Remember the name Grace Wales Bonner. The 23-year-old only completed her BA at Central Saint Martins last July, then took part in the autumn/winter Fashion East scheme at London Collections Men in January (previous participants include Craig Green, Agi & Sam and Louis Vuitton’s Kim Jones).

Ebonics, her first collection post-graduation, referenced black representation in 19th-century art, the 1920s Harlem Renaissance and black style in the 70s, and has been shown at the V&A. From £335 for trousers, from openingceremony.us4.

The right pairs

Feit's 'neoluxury' trainersFeit's 'neoluxury' trainers

Feit and Number 288: By calling its footwear ‘neoluxury’, the New York sneaker brand Feit does itself no favours on the obnoxious scale. If the truth be told though, they do make beautiful trainers.

The minimal design means that there has to be flawless craftsmanship; all shoes are made by hand, largely from a single piece of leather. The finishing touch? Each pair is signed and dated by the master craftsman who ‘built’ it.

Boots, £595, and bi-colour trainers, £395, from ln-cc.com5.

Number 228's Howard trainersNumber 228's Howard trainers

Minimalism is also the mantra for fellow NY brand Number 288, founded by Jung Suh and Benyam Assefa (hailing from South Korea and Ethiopia respectively), who met at Parsons School of Design. Classic silhouettes get a modern update with asymmetric lacing and ultra-soft leather and suede. Branding is nearly non-existent; instead the Roman numerals ‘II VIII VIII’ are stitched on to the spine of each shoe.

Howard trainers, £290, from ln-cc.com6.


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