Devices like Apple’s Vision Pro Headset offer users many opportunities to change their perception of reality. This will make interpersonal communication and interaction more difficult, but it also offers completely new opportunities to improve communication, says Katherine Isbister from the University of California, Santa Cruz. MIT Technology Review reports in its current issue why this is the case and what consequences it could have.
Together with her group, Isbister has developed and investigated a number of future application examples. For example, augmented realities can affect the balance of a conversation, she says: In her prototype, a cylindrical column grows above each avatar, representing that person’s speaking time. “All you have to do is look up and you’ll see a visualization of all the communication,” explains Isbister. Anyone who dominates communication can take a back seat without anyone having to take on the unpleasant role of reprimanding them.
Which is not possible in the physical world
In augmented realities, spaces and the environment can also be changed to enhance successful communication – in a way that is not possible in the physical world alone. Because the connections between space, relationships and emotions are quite stable – in all realities: “When people interact freely in physical spaces, you can tell from the distance what kind of relationship they have to each other,” says Julie Williamson, from the University of Glasgow.
Some tasks may be better done in a small space, others with more space. Thanks to XR technology, the room can adapt to the situation. “Perhaps we can also tell from social signals which interaction was more successful,” says Williamson, “these are all things that are not so easily possible in the material world.” How the volume of a conversation changes as a person approaches or moves away also influences the interaction. “How much the sound drops when someone moves away affects concentration or distraction,” says Williamson. In virtual rooms, organizers can help ensure that small groups remain stable during small talk by ensuring that other conversations in the room cannot or can hardly be heard. Or they ensure more change by making it easier for individuals to hear what other groups are currently discussing.
In the past, you had to deal with a C64 with a data set and pixelated graphics from games, but today you can’t even see pixels in current VR glasses. And now Apple is entering the spatial computing market with a clear commitment to augmented reality. Will this help VR / AR technology achieve a breakthrough? The new issue of MIT Technology Review explores this question. Highlights from the magazine:
“The opportunity of such technology is to change our perception of reality in order to bridge the gap that exists between us,” says Yun Suen Pai from Keio University in Tokyo. The role of XR technologies should be to prevent misunderstandings by conveying emotions and needs. Yun Suen Pai from Keio University in Tokyo wants to convey emotions and needs in XR. Pai is working on “bioresponsive” avatars: using wearable computing devices such as bracelets or smart glasses, he tries to measure various physical values such as skin conductivity and heart rate and to calculate a person’s emotional state from these and possibly other factors. This person’s avatar can then convey this psychological status to other people. Depending on the background, this radical transparency can be seen as a utopia or a dystopia – here, too, further research is necessary.
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