Embodied Labs always uses high resolution, live film to create their 360 environments. This allows them to create rich, highly-realistic learning environments with a high level of impact. Unlike computer-generated imagery, live film allows viewers to much more strongly feel that they are actually embodying the person. The computer-generated effects in the lab, such as the person’s hands and other objects in the scenes, allow the learner to accomplish tasks as Alfred – giving them an even stronger sense of embodiment. Research in human cognition and embodiment theories shows that we all learn more effectively and retain more about our learning permanently when we can “learn by doing.” There are quite a few ways that VR technology will continue to develop over the coming months that will allow for even more realistic interaction with the simulation, including voice recognition, eye tracking, and artificial intelligence. Embodied Labs plans to harness these technologies effectively in forthcoming simulations, including The Betty Lab with its Alzheimer’s focus that will be out in the fall of this year.
The Embodied Labs team have seen and heard their customers’ stories of how many people come out of the headset after viewing The Alfred Lab with tears in their eyes. But aside from the emotional impact, the data acquired from our initial pilot studies indicate that after the simulation, students are more interested in working with older adults, far less likely to engage in ageist stereotyping, more likely to agree that they understand the perspective of an aging adult, and learn more about the complexities of disease presentation.
This kind of data is incredibly exciting for Shaw. “When I was in graduate school training to be a medical illustrator, I realized that virtual reality technology had gotten to the point where it could effectively portray complex conditions, and allow a learner to come as close as possible to embodying someone and learning from their experience,” Shaw explains. “Not that you understand exactly what their life is like – that isn’t realistic or possible, but it can give you a window of understanding.”
For the high school student above, embodying Alfred changed her perspective on what it means to age. Instead of describing older adults with some of the stereotypical language she used before the simulation, she said “frustration, need understanding, and ‘just a regular person.’”