Science club explores VR and quality of life

 

Last updated 2/20/2024 at 9:17am

Photo provided

Dr. Donna Davis.

Did you ever watch something on a screen and wish you could jump right through it and into the action? With the emergence of virtual reality and social virtual worlds, it is possible - and often with surprising effects. Although we often see news headlines that talk about the dark side of technology, consider, too, how interactions in these places can improve an 87-year-old Parkinson's patient's quality of life and mobility.

Dr. Donna Davis, director of the Oregon Reality Lab and the Immersive Media Communication program at the University of Oregon, followed this true story of a woman who found community and purpose through her avatar. Not only did she discover improved mobility, but she inspired an entire community of Parkinson's patients to use these technologies to find support and more. This community also led Dr. Davis to study the opportunities and effects of emerging technologies on marginalized populations.

Dr. Davis will share her expertise on immersive media at the next lecture in the Frontiers in Science series, presented by the Sisters Science Club at The Belfry, on Tuesday, February 27, at 7 p.m.

Keeping up with technological innovation is turning our vocabulary into alphabet soup. Consider AR (augmented reality), VR (virtual reality), XR (extended reality), and AI (artificial intelligence). These represent emerging platforms now used in the world of immersive media. While many think of these as children's games and entertainment spaces, they are also used to improve communication and build community.

The Republican party used AI to respond to President Biden's announcement about his bid for re-election. Gucci uses AI, VR, and NFTs (non-fungible tokens) to attract new audiences. Nike uses Roblox to build its brand and sell products. These are just a few examples of immersive technologies and how they are being used in the field of communication. 

Dr. Davis is an expert in virtual reality, digital embodiment, tech equity and inclusion, and digital social capital. Her presentation on February 27 is titled "XR as Communication: The Future is Here."

Social hour begins at 6 p.m. with light fare, beer, and wine available for purchase. Admission is $5 at the door; teachers and students are admitted free. The Belfry is located at 302 E. Main Ave., Sisters.

For more information contact [email protected].

 

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