2017 Summit: The Reality of Virtual Reality with Tobin Asher and Elise Ogle

Tobin Asher, lab manager at the Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL) at Stanford University, and Elise Ogle, project manager at VHIL, explored scientific storytelling through a virtual reality demonstration.

“It’s important that we can achieve this thing called presence, which is the feeling that you are not passively watching something, but actively experiencing it. Experiences are a big part of our lives. Experiences shape the way we think, shape our behavior,” Asher said.

Ogle discussed various studies VHIL has conducted, explaining the importance of immersive storytelling.

“How can we use virtual reality to change attitudes about the environment and behaviors toward the environment?” she asked.

Asher and Ogle invited a volunteer, Emily Robinson, a sophomore at the George Washington University, to demonstrate the virtual reality experience for the audience. The demonstration explored ocean acidification, allowing the user to virtually walk around a reef undergoing acidification.

“Storytelling isn’t just about facts, but also engaging people. There’s a real emotional, human component to virtual reality, where you are becoming part of it,” Asher said.

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