Telling the story of modern human slavery through augmented reality

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Osei is a young boy in Ghana forced to work for a fishing master. Hari is a father in Nepal trapped in debt bondage. Gwen is a teenager in the United States stuck in a prostitution ring. What do all three of these people have in common? They have all been affected by human trafficking.

The World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on July 30 seeks to find justice for the approximately 21 million people trafficked annually around the world. This is a global issue: according to the UN, at least 127 of the 195 recognized countries have reported incidents of trafficking in 2016.

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 2.43.11 PMEmpathetic Media has partnered with the ATTeam of the Red Cross of Pancevo in Serbia to raise awareness about the issue of modern human slavery. The story, entitled “#STOPtrafficking2016”, will be hosted on Empathetic Media’s free app, ARc Stories, the first augmented reality (AR) sequential storytelling app. Anyone with a smartphone can view the AR experience, which uses traffic stop signs as triggers. Users can go up to a real world stop sign or a photo of one to view the piece, which explores human trafficking through the story of three people affected by it: Osei, Hari and Gwen.

3D models of these individuals are combined with AR graphs that bring statistics on the issue to life. Audio, maps and text provide context to the models and make it more immersive. The square in the top right hand corner allows screenshots of the experience to be taken and saved to the device to facilitate social media sharing with #STOPtrafficking2016. Empathetic Media will share on Facebook and Twitter every related screenshot marked with #STOPtrafficking2016.

Human trafficking is still a prevalent issue partially because 27 countries are currently on the U.S. Department of State’s Tier 3 Watch List. Tier 3 countries do not fully comply with the minimal standards of the State Department’s Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which includes prohibiting and punishing severe forms of trafficking. Help us to raise awareness and stop trafficking now.

The goal of this project is to not only tell the story of modern day slavery, but also tackle stereotypes that it is only an issue in countries that lack the political infrastructure to persecute perpetrators of trafficking. In addition, while it is an issue that largely affects women and children and often involves sex trafficking, we wanted to show that it can affect anyone, including men. This is part of Empathetic Media’s larger goal to not only create captivating nonfiction pieces, but also use new technology to dive deep into issues through an unbiased, journalistic lens.

While you wait for “#STOPtrafficking2016,” to come out this Saturday, July 30, check out Empathetic Media’s recent collaboration with social venture Silicon Harlem on the events leading up to the death of Eric Garner in 2014.

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