Today: virtual reality designer, educator, and innovator Jeremy Bailenson.
Virtual reality is still relatively new technological terrain, a digital phenomenon whose immense and absorbing possibilities are still unevenly misconstrued by many as mere science-fictional diversion.
Jeremy Bailenson, however, is rooting this phenomenon in the real and right now. One of the foremost leaders in the VR field, Bailenson is the the co-writer of 2011's Infinite Reality: Avatars, Eternal Life, New Worlds, and the Dawn of the Virtual Revolution and the founding director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, which continues to make stunning and significant breakthroughs in digital human representation, within the specific context of immersive VR. Bailenson and his colleagues have re-envisioned and further expanded the virtual ways in which people can represent themselves free of any bodily or behavioral restrictions. He is a committed, fine-grained designer and lifelong student of the virtual reality systems that have enabled individuals from all over the world to meet and interact within virtual space, conceiving of new, engrossing, and undeniably magical methods of verbal and nonverbal communication.
"We're using this cutting-edge lab to try to think ahead by a few years to predict what household technology is going to be like and how that's going to affect people," Bailenson says. "We integrate three virtual senses in a way that's very psychologically persuasive -- sight, sound and touch." Take a short but fascinating glimpse at Bailenson's Stanford lab:
For a shorter but broader discussion on VR technology and its deeper societal implications, check out this 2013 segment on PBS NewsHour, in which Bailenson helps Economics correspondent Paul Solman test out the newest VR gear:
In this 2011 “Authors at Google” talk, Bailenson eagerly anticipates the forthcoming explosion of VR developments in relation to his just-published Infinite Reality:
Watch here as Bailenson shares his research on VR avatars and the transformation of social interaction in this lengthy lecture that's still worth a look for anyone interested seeing an ambitious and expert mind discuss his discipline with intrigue and intelligence:
Amid allegations that virtual reality technology may be ethically dubious and hard to get into, Bailenson is the representative his field urgently needs: a calm, confident, and convincing voice of reason, able to assure us of a virtual world’s creative power and boundless prospects with the sheer strength of his intellectual precision and all-consuming passion.
Come see Jeremy Bailenson on April 22nd, at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival.
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