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Zentrum für Gender und Diversität

A story about Virtual Reality

The WYRED (netWorked Youth Research for the Empowerment in the Digital society) project in the meantime finishes its second cycle of generative research. A broad variety of projects – intended to give Young People a voice in our more and ore digital society –  was developed in this H2020 project, One of them is the reflection of Bianca Neumann, Lisa Birett and Alina Bindu from Hertha Firnberg-Schools in Vienna on the impacts of  New Technologies on our lives: 

They tell us that our world is currently filled with modern technology due to the noteworthy progress scientists have made in recent years. Artificial intelligence and robotics have become significantly advanced and are commonly found in the modern working fields. The adoption of service automation is able to facilitate production, transportation, medicine, education, tourism, and many other areas. The question is whether or not the world of employment will benefit from this embrace of machinery and what challenges human employees might face if robots were to actively participate in various business departments.

This also accounts for  Virtual Reality which is one of the modern technologies that are nowadays used to alter our perception of the world that is surrounding us. Wikipedia defines VR as “a computer-generated scenario that stimulates a realistic experience”.

But what exactly does this mean? Headsets are usually used to either create a completely new environment or just change the outlay of the real world. Even props or physical environments can be used to generate realistic images and sounds that will completely pull the user into an alternative universe. To make the experience as authentic as possible the user is able to look and move around and even interact with virtual features or items.

Virtual reality can come in handy in many different fields and is believed to facilitate many tasks we have to face. In social sciences for example, VR is being used to study and replicate interactions of human beings in a controlled environment. Also, surgery training can nowadays be done through VR technologies. The benefits of an altered or artificial environment can be taken advantage of for educational or training purposes where individuals can develop skills without the pressure of failure and the fear of consequences which are constantly present in the real world. But virtual reality is also used for entertainment purposes, in public or privately. This includes gaming, 3D cinema or roller coasters that are offering an extraordinary experience by using modern technologies.

„Even though VR“, the young women summarize, „has many advantages there are various concerns especially regarding the health and safety of the users as well as the protection of their privacy. Some side effects of VR have already been noticed but most long-term effects on vision and neurological development are still unknown“

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