The book is called Experience on Demand: What Virtual Reality is, How it Works, and What it Can Do. It was a useful corrective to a lot of my naive impressions of the technology.
A few excerpts:
By January 2015, our lab’s state-of-the-art HMC, the one that cost more than some luxury cars, had been replaced by developer models of consumer HMDs like the Oculus Rift and the Vive.
HMD = head mounted display
if someone sees his avatar get lightly poked with a stick, and also physically feels his chest getting poked synchronously, the avatar is treated as the self. People “transfer’ their consciousness into it, according to dozens of studies.
People in taller avatars negotiate more aggressively, people in attractive avatars speak more socially, and people in older avatars care more about the distant future.
Virtual reality is going to become a must-have technology when you can simply talk and interact with other people in a virtual space in a way that feels utterly, unspectacularly normal.
But we are not close to that point.
One reason we might prefer avatars to video for communication is latency. . .videoconferencing at its essence is designed to send everything the camera sees over the network, regardless of how important the feature is concerning communication.
The neat thing about VR is that you don’t need to send all those pixels over the network over and over again. . .
Tracking the actions of two speakers, transmitting them online, and applying them to the respective avatars all occur seamlessly, and all the participants feel as if they are in the same virtual room
I have little doubt that virtual reality will be an excellent tool for spreading propaganda.
VR is about exploration, and storytellling is about control.
People who make movies are used to having control of where the user is focused. Good VR gives the user the freedom to focus anywhere. Contrast Hollywood movies with video games.
The educational field trip is the elusive unicorn.
Again, the conflict between exploration and control emerges.
by analyzing the body language of teachers and learners while a class was being taught, we could accurately predict the test scores of the students later on.
Very interesting result to think about.
To the extent that it is the teacher’s nonverbal communication that matters, and to the extent that students respond individually to nonverbal communication, students might learn better from avatars:
Virtual reality makes it possible for one teacher to give one-on-one instruction to many students at the same time. . .from a nonverbal standpoint