The Promise and Paths of Virtual Reality Immersion

via Swaptik Chowdhury

There is a renewed focus around the world on achieving just and inclusive society. Governments, industries, and other institutions are taking concrete steps to address racial equity & unconscious bias concerns and Virtual Reality (VR) can be one of the tools to promote learning around the issue. VR has immense potential in addressing different forms of bias by providing a viable alternative to the resource intensive points-of-view and video-based bias training. VR immersion-based training provides a judgement free custom learning environment with near-immediate results, which makes it attractive as a training tool for sensitive issues. As mentioned in this article, “VR can make a real difference, by engaging caseworkers in a natural flow of conversation during training that’s rarely possible in the real world”. Studies have explored the application of VR immersion based racial bias training in government child welfare agencies for training case workers, in court rooms and in police departments for improving decision making of police officers under stress.

With the advent and advancement in game-engine technology, it is possible to create hyperreal 3D environment. AR immersion combined with game-based methods can then adapt the hyperreal 3D environments to effectively expand the scope and capacity of the VR immersion-based training for addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion concerns. There is also an interest in using Augmented Reality (AR)-VR based Mixed reality (MR) immersion method for natural or man-made disasters planning, preparedness, and management.

With all the advancement in the VR immersion, the technology is still at its infancy and there is scope of improvement. Bulky hardware, limited integration option with mobile and other handheld device and high initial cost of hardware may limit general adoption. Lack of regulation and public skepticism also hamper innovations and large scale adoption of VR immersion-based technology in other critical spheres of life. For example, there was public concern regarding public safety when many players got injured while playing Pokemon Go which is a VR based game. However, the technology behind the VR immersion is rapidly developing which when coupled with the potential uses in field of education, health, defense, and disaster planning would drive down the cost. It would be exciting to see how VR immersion improves the world.

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