Building the Ultimate Empathy Machine
Couple weeks ago we had the pleasure of creating a virtual reality showcase at Elonmerkki – a yearly event for communications professionals. Our little showcase was a success – queues formed and many interesting discussions around the topic were had.
It is always curious and fascinating to see people do something for the very first time. Entering virtual reality is no different – it can be surprisingly intense. I’ve seen people fall off their feet, sweat and loose their cool with their heart racing. Some feel instantly sick and some are instantly hooked.
These surprisingly strong responses echo the reactions of the very first moviegoers, who felt the urge to run away when they saw an onscreen train approaching. There are many reasons why virtual reality provides such an impact for the novice user. Even though the experience is virtual, it’s also visceral. The previously unexperienced audiovisual input provides new kind of stimulation for your brain and tricks you into thinking something very real is happening. You really feel like you’re in some other place, being some other person.
Because of its intense and immersive nature, some have started to call virtual reality “the empathy machine”. By entering VR you can step into someone else’s shoes like never before. This opens up great possibilities for communication, education and arts.
Last week many Finnish news outlets published a story about a recent study, that claimed Finland is “one of the least empathetic nations in the world”. Maybe virtual reality could provide good training grounds for us Finns to work on our empathy skills!
Why should you be interested in VR? Mostly because soon it’s going to be everywhere. We at Exove are delivering our first virtual reality client projects this fall. All the big players who define our digital future, think Facebook or Google, are investing heavily into virtual reality. Google released its Daydream platform just the other week and Playstation VR is hitting the stores as we speak. Both of these solutions are aimed at bringing VR for the masses, accelerating the adoption of VR manyfold. So, interesting times ahead. A virtual experience not unlike Westworld might be here sooner than we think.