Government Elearning! Magazine

WINTER 2016

Elearning! Magazine: Building Smarter Companies via Learning & Workplace Technologies.

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Government Elearning! Winter 2016 21 that feeling discrimination firsthand while walking a mile in someone else's shoes [through virtual reality] is a better way to change attitudes and behavior." Bailenson and his team have validated the so called "Proteus Effect," in which the behavior of an individual, within online virtual worlds, is changed by the visual characteristics of their avatar. Stanford's Virtual Human Interaction Lab has even conducted experiments simulating the feeling of being a cow in virtual reality. Subjects donned a VR headset, got down on all fours, and when the simulation was turned on found themselves in a virtual pas- ture. e scene transitioned to the holding pen of a cattle truck, where a haptics system simulated the vibrations of the moving truck as it took them to the slaughterhouse. e study found that people felt more con- nected to the animals than those who simply watched the simulation play out on a screen and ultimately might be less likely to eat meat. is ability to be embodied as a dif- ferent person or even a different species is why virtual reality has been hailed as "e Ultimate Empathy Machine," by film maker Chris Milk. Imagine the opportunities to build this kind of empathy in sales and ser- vice training, coaching skill development, and diversity and inclusion programs. VR HEADSET MARKET e current generation virtual reality headsets range from a cardboard box for a few dollars to a $3,000 computer- headset bundle. If you're a New York Times subscriber, you might already own a VR headset. It recently provided over a million subscribers with a fold-your-own cardboard box, including plastic lenses, magnets, and Velcro. Just drop almost any smart phone into the "Google Cardbaord" box and experience VR for yourself. If you own certain models of the Samsung Galaxy, you can get a $99 GearVR headset, which offers a step up in comfort and quality from the cardboard box. With the new Google Pixel phone, you can buy a similarly priced Google Daydream headset. ese mobile headsets provide a good entry point to vir- tual reality. ey work well for shorter and more linear experiences, such as a 360-de- gree spherical video. At the high end of the virtual reality mar- ket, Facebook's Oculus Ri and HTC Vive are locked in race for market leadership. e HTC Vive comes with laser cameras and a very long cord connected to a PC that allows you to roam around a room up to 15 times 15 feet large. Using hand controllers, you can see representations of your hands in the virtual space. A clever visual overlay in the virtual scene indicates where the real-life walls are to keep you bumping into them. Both Microso and Oculus Ri have announced headsets that will occupy the middle ground between mobile and PC tethered headsets. ese devices will have trackers built in, rather than relying on ex- ternal laser cameras, making them easier to set up and use. ey are expected to hit the market sometime next year. Which virtual reality headset will be the winner? Or will we see a balkanized Mac vs. PC-style war of competing standards? Only time will tell. My advice would be to keep an open mind and not put all your chips on one system, yet. AUGMENTED REALITY On the heels of virtual reality is its cousin "augmented reality" (AR) or "mixed real- ity." We all got a taste of a crude form of AR via the explosion of Pokémon Go. Virginia Cooney at Lehigh Valley Health Network is already plotting a Pokémon GO-style game for orienting new med stu- dents to her campuses: "ey will get to know the new campus by walking around and finding the equivalence of poké balls and answer questions." But, the real breakthrough with aug- mented reality will be eye wear that proj- ects holographic images on top of the real world. "Augmented reality is the real game changer," says Robbie Melton of the Tennes- see Board of Regents. "We have three Holo- Lenses in our classrooms already." e Mi- croso HoloLens is a see-through headset that projects holographic images on top of the real world. "e HoloAnatomy is unbe- lievably impactful, it revolutionizes anatomy and physiology teaching", Melton said Melton is an industry veteran who puts the new technology in perspective. "I've been in the learning industry for 45 years, I hail from the time of chalkboards; virtual and augmented reality is by far the biggest technology revolution of my career." –Anders Gronstedt, Ph.D., (anders@gron- stedtgroup.com) is president of the Gronstedt Group, a digital training agency that custom develops learning games, simulations and online video. 'We should think of VR not as a media experience but closer to an actual experience.' –Jeremy Bailenson, Director of Stanford University's Virtual Human Interaction Lab

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