Stanford University


Social Interaction in Augmented Reality

Two things are clear about Augmented Reality. First, the technology will be flooding the consumer, enterprise, and education markets in the next year. Second, researchers know little to nothing about how this novel technology will change social interaction. This project seeks to make advances both in the computer science and the social psychology of AR.

Examining Racism with Virtual Reality

With funding from the Brown Institute for Media Innovation, we are using the medium of VR to examine racism. In collaboration with Dr. Courtney Cogburn from Columbia University, we have created 1000 Cut Journey, an immersive virtual reality experience that allows you to walk in the shoes of Michael Sterling, a Black male, and encounter racism first-hand, as a young child, an adolescent, and a young adult. Understanding the social realities of racism is critical to promoting effective and collective social action.

Empathy at Scale

The following project seeks to design, test, and distribute virtual reality interventions that teach empathy. Virtual reality simulations allow learners to experience the life of someone else by “walking a mile” in his or her shoes. Through the capabilities of the technology, learners can see their appearance and behaviors reflected in a virtual mirror as someone who is different, and perceptually experience a scenario from the perspective of any party in a social interaction.

Sustainable Behaviors

Extreme weather events are now dramatizing the effect humans are having on the planet. Yet we still face great challenges in staving off irrevocable climate change. It isn’t simply about convincing skeptical politicians — it’s about getting the public to visualize how their behaviors (like driving a gas-guzzling car or living in an energy inefficient home) are contributing to a problem that may only manifest itself completely in future decades. Our previous research has shown that Virtual Reality is uniquely effective at changing conservation behavior, as evidenced in studies about reducing paper use and about hot water conservation.

Immersion and Presence

As virtual reality technology moves from laboratories to living rooms, the question, “how immersive is enough” has become uniquely important. For governments and corporations who seek to build systems, it is critical to know exactly how immersive these systems need to be. Inspired by an exhaustive meta-analysis on the qualities that make up an ideal virtual experience, the Immersion at Scale project seeks to explore the degree of immersion required for an ideal virtual experience through the use of mobile virtual reality systems.

Learning in Immersive VR

A virtual classroom gives researchers the freedom to conduct experiments with complete control over the actions and appearance of virtual teachers, classmates, and surroundings. In collaboration with researchers from the Graduate School of Education, we are investigating the interactions between class subject, learning environment, and classroom makeup on participants' interest and learning in a virtual class. Through the virtual world, we are also able to precisely monitor participants’ behavior in the classroom, and look for correlations between these behaviors and learning outcomes.