Stanford University study reveals real-world effects of AR

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A new Stanford University study of augmented reality (AR) has found that people’s interactions with a virtual person influenced how they behaved and acted in the real world.

Researchers at Stanford University, led by Jeremy Bailenson, a professor of communication in the School of Humanities and Sciences, found that after people had an experience in AR, their interactions in their physical world changed as well, even with the goggles they wore removed.

One example of this result was participants avoided sitting on a chair they had just seen a virtual person sit on.

Researchers also found that participants appeared to be influenced by the presence of a virtual person in a similar way they would be if a real person were next to them. The findings were published on 14 May in PLOS ONE.

Bailenson, who co-authored the paper with graduate students Mark Roman Miller, Hanseul Jun and Fernanda Herrera, explained the findings: “We’ve discovered that using augmented reality technology can change where you walk, how you turn your head, how well you do on tasks, and how you connect socially with other physical people in the room.”

The findings mirror much of the research that Bailenson has done on virtual reality (VR), but while VR attempts to simulate a real-life environment and take the user out of the present setting, AR layers digital information atop the user’s physical surroundings.

And technology companies are increasingly turning to the development of AR products as competition heats up to within immersive media.

Bailenson said: “AR could help the climate change crisis by allowing realistic virtual meetings, which would avoid the need for gas to commute or flying to meetings in person. And this research can help bring attention to the possible social consequences of AR use at a large scale, so the technology can be designed to avoid these issues before becoming ubiquitous.”

Find out more about the study and how the research team cam to their conclusions over on Stanford University’s website.

Image credit: Stanford University