Virtual Reality prompts human connections through awe—TEDxSFU

Imagine seeing Earth from space, or actually walking in another’s shoes and sharing those perspectives —both are profound experiences that can inspire awe. They are also now made possible by using immersive Virtual Reality (VR). SFU researchers are studying whether interactive VR content and interfaces can illicit such emotions, and are exploring VR’s potential beyond gaming to include social and wellness applications. 

Initial studies carried out in SFU’s iSpace Lab show that participants feel a sense of awe when touring the planet in Google Earth VR. Nearly 80 per cent reported awe while almost half experienced ‘frisson’—chills and a physical goosebump reaction to awe-inspiring events. Many also felt a strong social connection during the VR experience. Follow-up studies show that the immersive VR medium may be a powerful communication tool with transformative potential. 

Denise Quesnel, a graduate student in SFU’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT), shared how VR content and systems can facilitate understanding and increase connectivity between individuals, when she presented at TEDxSFU on Sunday, Nov. 12. 


Read the full SFU News story and learn more about Quesnel's research.