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Global behaviour change through Virtual Reality

Roy Taylor, Corporate Vice President and Head of Alliances at Radeon Technologies Group, AMD | Nov. 9, 2016
The underwater VR expedition, developed by 3D Live with Dell Precision, Alienware, AMD and HTC technology, transports viewers into the depths of the sea to witness underwater life and see how pollution has disrupted it.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

One of the first ideas of Virtual Reality was captured in Stanley G. Weinbaum's 1935 science fiction short story "Pygmalion's Spectacles." A fantastical concept of re-creating reality, the field of interest didn't receive its name until 1987 when Jaron Lanier, founder of the visual programming lab (VPL), coined the term.

With Virtual Reality (VR) entering its golden age, new uses abound. VR now has the potential to help us internalise experiences that are not filtered through our own prejudices. And while VR continues to make its mark on entertainment, it has immense potential to allow people to experience something groundbreaking: "duality of presence" - being in two realities at once. This has an extraordinary capacity for encouraging greater empathy, understanding, compassion, and connection to the "real world."

What makes VR possible? Sophisticated yet simple, intuitive technology and lifelike graphics that create seamless transitions from the real world to a virtual world. Not only does virtual reality have the capacity to make you feel, it has the power to make you know. By immersing yourself in a "real" experience, VR provides evidence from prime sources and acts as a truth-telling representation of the real world.

Immersive Healing

Let's put ourselves in the boots of a solider. Bravemind is a virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) simulation developed by Dr. Skip Rizzo at USC's Institute for Creative Technologies that is used to help those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It uses an immersive and realistic virtual environment, enabled by high-performing graphics technologies, to recreate unique interactive scenarios to help soldiers normalise the experiences they went through during combat. For Marine Corps veteran, Chris Merkle, Bravemind has helped him cope with the stress of his deployment in Iraq.

Previously, soldiers with PTSD have had access to healing methods like talk therapy, which used limited senses like speech and sound. However, VRET is a full-body experience, which enables Merkle to go "...right back in that exact place ... to process [it] instead of avoiding it." Merkle provided his own input to make this form of exposure therapy more life-like for his situation, so that he could repeatedly experience and process what he went through in his own words - helping to expedite his therapy by two to three years.

Immersive Discoveries

Using advanced technology to reveal our impact on an ancient form of life, Dell and actor Adrian Grenier created Cry Out: The Lonely Whale Experience, an underwater VR expedition developed by 3D Live with Dell Precision, Alienware, AMD and HTC VIVE technology. It transports users into the depths of the sea. Underwater, the user is witness to underwater life and how pollution has disrupted and injured the delicate ecosystems that create our oceans. 


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