Entertainment

04.16.13

Meet the 90-Year-Old Granny Blown Away by Virtual-Reality Goggles

The 90-year-old-grandmother who sent the Internet aflutter with her video wearing virtual-reality goggles talks to Jean Trinh about her newfound Internet fame.

“Holy mackerel, this is unbelievable!”

Folks, the future of technology is here. Ninety-year-old Rachel Mahassel can attest to that.

The viral YouTube video uploaded on April 14 by her grandson, Paul Rivot, has already amassed over 600,000 views. Reddit even hosted an AMA—a Q&A with readers—with the grandmother yesterday evening, as fans poured their love and support for this positive and delightful woman.

In the clip, the unsuspecting Mahassel puts on the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset and takes a tour of Tuscany, part of the demo, giving adorable exultations of “heavens,” “I don’t believe I’m seeing this,” and “oh man!”

“When I put those on, believe me, I can honestly tell you I was in another world as quick as a snap of a finger,” Mahassel told The Daily Beast. “What an incredible way to see the world.”

Video screenshot

The Oculus Rift headset, developed by Oculus VR—which wowed the technology world at CES earlier this year and was successfully backed on Kickstarter with over $2.4 million—is an immersive 3D virtual-reality headset for videogames and video. Rivot, the creative director and founder of marketing company Imagimind Studios, and his colleague, software engineer Gregory Heimbuecher, were working on creating a simple program using the Ocular Rift headset. Rivot’s grandmother was coincidentally with them and they decided to let her take a test spin on the demo. “We said, ‘you know, she has to try this out—she’s been alive for so long, went through everything from not having a television and all the way up to this,’” Heimbuecher said. “’This is just going to blow her mind’…and it did.”

One reader at the Reddit AMA wrote, “Your video was the most moving thing I've seen in a long time on the Internet. With your energy and enthusiasm I have no doubt you'll still be with us at 110 and the world will be a better place for still having your wisdom among us.” Heimbuecher, who relayed the questions and comments to Mahassel, typed her response, “HOLY HANNAH! WOW!”

Rivot, who describes Mahassel as “the most loving person you’ll ever meet in your life,” said that his grandmother has been staying up late with excitement ever since they uploaded the video, even as late at 11:30 p.m., and calling friends to tell them about her new internet fame. A lover of family, and someone who enjoyed golfing, tennis, and horse-riding in her younger years, Mahassel hopes to live to 100 at least.

“If you want to be sad that’s your business, but if you want to be happy, go for it,” Mahassel said. “Go for it!”