Researchers at the University of Arizona are using VR and AR to re-create common experiences of discrimination and racism.
The immersive technology uses AR and VR to place a person in a scenario to provide a realistic racism experience. Office of Research, Innovation and Impact’s Challenge Grant funding from the will be used to create the pilot project named UA-ARXRS (Anti-Racism Extended Reality Studio), which will be led by Bryan Carter.
“Knowing the power of immersive education and knowing that the national conversation is about racism and inequality now, we’re looking at leveraging this new technology to help with that dilemma. By creating these scenarios, we’re hoping to engage people differently and help people step into the shoes of others by being an actual first-person observer. You’re within a space and observing things that are happening around you and to you.” – Bryan Carter.
Creating scenarios to produce extended-reality experiences “can alter perspectives and make possible more honest, concrete, and productive discussions about racism than similar discussions initiated without the assistance of immersive technology. The invisibility of systemic racism can be uncloaked.” – Bryan Carter.
The initial project will focus on creating two situations. The first will be a completely immersive experience. By wearing a VR headset, users will be set as a first-person witness in an immersive video setting.
“Those are the kinds of microaggressions that typically go unaddressed. They’re difficult to track, and we want to take people into the world of someone who experiences things like that so they can differently understand what that experience is like.” – Carter.
The second situation will be an AR experience, intended to be viewed through a tablet or a smartphone. Geolocation software will provide the simulation to play into the experience.
The design combines elements of art, culture, community engagement, and research on immersive technology as a tool for personal transformation.
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