Virtual Latrines Video Update #1


Join Gerwin and Marcus as they look back on the first week spent in the field for the Virtual Latrines project.

This project is a collaboration between BoP Innovation Center, VIA Water and the Mozambican organizations Naiss, XL, and FX Studio. If you’d like to read more about what this project is about, go to our VIA WATER project page.

With the Virtual Latrines project we’re looking to explore the potential for Virtual Reality to help door-to-door sales agents offer visualisations for the products they sell. Companies in the west have previously experimented with similar ideas, most notably, retail superpowers including Lowe’s and IKEA. Our project is inherently different as it targets an entirely different consumer group and the hardware itself must conform to fit our needs for price and portability.

We recently travelled to Maputo to oversee the initial steps in kicking off this project. Throughout the week we met with the latrine sales agents of Naiss and their consumers, observing their current sales procedures and getting their thoughts and ideas on integrating VR into their routine. We also deployed successful guerilla-style field tests that proved how little apprehension there actually was surrounding the use of VR. People of all ages didn’t hesitate to grab ahold of the headsets and almost immediately understood how to use them. 

We’re currently working with FX Studio, a production studio in Maputo, to develop our first round of prototypes for the sales agents to test in the field. One of these prototypes is intended to replicate the function of a demo room, so instead of having to bring customers to a preassembled bathroom, they can step inside a virtual one by just looking through the headset. We’re also looking into producing a new 360-degree video piece for raising awareness using a testimonial from customers. The plan is to have our next visit to Mozambique coincide with the first field tests of these prototypes, so keep your eyes peeled for the next update!