Stanford University


Using Virtual Reality to Avoid Catastrophe, Popular Science

VHIL researchers hope to make their virtual reality "field trip" a vital conservation tool, aiming to give its "travelers" as real an experience as possible. The goal is to get people to understand in a visceral way what climate change is doing to the oceans.

Can VR Really Make You More Empathetic?, Wired

VR scenarios could be more effective than the traditional public service ad at making people behave. Afterwards, they waste less paper. They save more money for retirement. They’re nicer to the people around them.

The See Change, Stanford Magazine

We are going from essentially no VR to potentially pervasive use of the most powerful medium ever. VHIL studies the consequences of a world where anything can happen at the touch of a button and feel like it’s actually happening.

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.