Heard a really sweet story today by Donna Z. Davis, Ph.D. at AWE (Augmented World Expo): she told the audience about an elderly woman with Parkinson’s, who regularly “meets” her tuxedo clad physically distant son (avatar) in VR to go dancing with him. *That’s* the power of VR for me. Not the whiz bang isn’t it cool game stuff, it’s the human element – and how much better it can make people’s lives. On the We Get Real AF Podcast (airing in June) I was asked what I thought the ultimate benefit of VR would be: my answer, without missing a beat, was “The end of loneliness.” And I really believe that.
It stuck a very personal chord. Doing my MBA at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, I was one of a small handful of women in a class of about 100 people. The professors’ speech defaulted to “he” and “him” for everything – I started raising my hand at every opportunity to point out the inherent “otherness” this created, for the female students; and also how is feeds the unspoken attitude that the default is male, and women are just add-ons and afterthoughts.
My suggestion to have one day – just one – where the language defaulted to “she” and “her” (but we mean you too, men!) was met with truthfully, eye rolling and some mockery.
That was 30 years ago, and the memory of it still stings.
I wish VR had been around then, to expose the men to what women so often go through. That is the power of virtual reality: for the first time in history, you can ACTUALLY walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. A powerful training experience not just for sexism, but racism, homophobia, all of it.
VR is such a powerful tool for education, and training: I hope to see many more companies create content and experiences, and companies adopt it as a tool to help employees learn in an experiential way that really can’t be replicated, building empathy and understanding in a truly unique manner.
The title of my presentation is Augmented reality, digital intimacy, and the future of brands & interaction. I’ll be exploring the digital intimacy created by AR, and extrapolate how these new realities will change the way brands and consumer relate. There will soon come a point where navigating our world without AR overlay will seem as impossible as currently navigating without mobile phones would be. Once the connectivity and information moves to our faces having it woven throughout our day will become indispensable. Join me as I explore the future of what brand means in an immersive world.
AWE has added “digital only” attendence as an option, which is $199 for the full 4 days of conferences (including 1 year exclusive subscription to session videos). You can watch sessions via livestreaming, interact with speakers, visit online exhibits and demos , and join video-based group meetings. A fantastic (and safe!) way to learn, connect, and experience all that the industry has to offer.
And please watch me! I’ll be taking questions afterwards and would love to hear what people are wondering about.