In March 2018, National Geographic partnered with creative agency McCann New York to offer viewers a truly one-of-a-kind TV-watching experience inside a customized space helmet. The Space Projection Helmet was designed specifically to enhance the viewing of the series, “One Strange Rock,” which chronicles the emergence and wonder of life on Earth, featuring the insights of astronauts. The helmets were used in exclusive debut experiences in March and will now tour select educational institutions and programs throughout the spring.
“The [One Strange Rock] Space Projection Helmet furthers National Geographic’s commitment to use technology to make science fun, entertaining and accessible to new audiences” Jill Cress, chief marketing and brand officer for National Geographic Partners, said. National Geographic Partners is a venture between National Geographic and 21st Century Fox that focuses on creating science, exploration and adventure content.
The unique helmets allow viewers to move their heads around inside the dome while the show airs and explore the panorama, just as an astronaut does on a spacewalk. Inside the space helmet replica, fish-eye optics, built-in audio and laser projection create what is described as “an exceptionally wide field of view." Nir Refuah, executive technology creative director of McCann NY, said the limited-edition viewing apparatus “enables a space experience that no VR headset could deliver.” The helmets can be controlled for group viewing with a remote control and also feature a push-to-start button for individual use.
Darren Aronofsky and Jane Root are the program’s executive producers and Will Smith is the host. The 10-part series features footage filmed in 45 countries on six continents and in outer space. It explores the narrative of life on this planet and offers the unique perspectives of those who have traveled beyond it.
“’One Strange Rock’ is an unprecedented television experience; we were inspired by the innovative storytelling, mesmerizing footage and unique accounts of astronauts to create a specialized viewing mechanism that would elevate and emulate their firsthand experience,” Cress said.
“I am going to tell you about the most incredible place,” Smith says as the narrator of this beautiful and thoughtful program, adding, “And you know what? You’re walking on it.”
“One Strange Rock” premiered on National Geographic March 26. The helmets were first enjoyed at a Whitby Hotel Theater event and at the Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall in New York City. They are now being sent on a tour for the enjoyment of educational groups at select schools and planetariums, including the Liberty State Science Center in Jersey City, New Jersey, and the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus, Ohio.
National Geographic has been offering educational content about life on Earth for 129 years and reaches millions of people in 172 countries monthly through its numerous media outlets. National Geographic Partners devotes 27 percent of its proceeds to the nonprofit National Geographic Society to support initiatives in exploration, science, education and conservation.