Originally Published: Huffington Post
One of my earliest childhood memories growing up in Paradise St Andrew in Grenada was that of a “Pan Tent” just up the road from my house. I loved going there as a boy to listen to the men from my village play pan. Even today, during the festive carnival season, one of the events that always speak to me is Panorama. I love listening to the different songs being played on the pan; I can sit and listen for hours. Grenada has a strong pan history, but I think Trinidad and Tobago has an even richer history. This got taken to a whole new level when local Trinidadian company Dingole Limited launched a new virtual reality pan experience. Yes, you read correctly, the team at Dingole launched PanJam on April 5th with Tevin Shockness, a professional pannist, passionately performing the National Anthem on the Virtual Steel Pan.
I don’t know about you, but that’s very impressive if you ask me, the world of steel pan and virtual reality colliding. As part of my Master of Digital Media program at Ryerson University, we talk a lot about virtual reality, augmented reality and the way these digital technologies are changing our society. I am very impressed with the fact that the Caribbean is not being left behind where this is concerned. Pan Jam has long been a vision of the Dingole Team, who successfully collaborated with the US Embassy of Trinidad and Tobago to make it happen.
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“Around the world, people are fascinated with the unique character of the sound of the steel pan. Yet, very few people have had the opportunity to actually play the instrument, and for those that do, it is a truly an unforgettable musical experience. Evoking the spirit of rebellion, modernity, and innovation that inspired the birth of the steel pan, Pan Jam takes a step forward fusing the majestic instrument with cutting edge virtual reality and gesture recognition technology to make it the first of its kind,” Shawn De Freitas, Director, Dingole said.
Shawn De Freitas
According to a press release from the Dingole Team, “We aim to create a virtual experience that allows people all over the world to experience what it is like to play and learn steel pan.”
As a staunch advocate of entrepreneurship and innovation and a digital media practitioner, I was always concerned that in the Caribbean we are not innovating enough in the areas of Virtual reality (VR) or even augmented reality. When Pokemon Go launched, it took the world by storm, and I think the future of digital is VR and AR. Companies that are able to provide content that we can consume in virtual reality will usher in the next generation of content marketing.
I am eagerly looking to see how far Shawn, Deidre and the team at Dingole Ltd can push the boundaries or virtual reality. Nevertheless, I am happy to see what they have done, just thinking of playing pan in virtual reality and the prospect of our Caribbean culture being exposed all over the world is overly exhilarating.