Over the past few years, the topic of refugees has dominated the news. Despite the widespread conversation, the realities of wars in faraway places are still hard to grasp for most people. To help them better realize the effects of conflict, a few companies have recreated scenarios to give consumers a glimpse into how war affects people’s every day. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) just launched a new campaign to create an experience using today’s latest technology, allowing everyone, everywhere to immerse themselves in what is happening thousands of miles away.

The organization created “Enter the Room,” an augmented reality (AR) experience in which participants witness the impacts of war by exploring a little girl’s room. After downloading the app, a doorway appears allowing the user to leave behind their familiar world and enter a colorful, toy-filled girl’s room. As the scenario unfolds, the room begins to change and reflect the turmoil outside. Drawings of war, medical supplies, and even a wheelchair appear in the room which slowly darkens from lack of electricity and falls into ruin. Seeing everyday objects most people have in their homes, aged by war or repurposed in disturbing ways and paired with the soundtrack of explosions makes the experience more relevant and leaves a haunting impact on viewers. The experience challenges people’s traditional image of war as users don’t see any violence, soldiers or other people. Vincent Vella, creative director of the project explains, “War can sometimes seem like a distant and abstract problem. With this project, we wanted people to feel what it’s like when war arrives at your doorstep. Things happen in a progressive way. We are in an environment that we think is totally protected, and then conflict steadily settles in.”

The ICRC puts users in a situation they never thought they’d need to worry about, in a way that is relatable and familiar. As augmented reality continues to grow, brands should explore if and how to leverage the technology to create emotion, empathy and action around complex issues.