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Becoming Homeless: A Human Experience

Updated: Jul 31, 2019

I saw this on Reddit a couple weeks ago - a study through Stanford University that looks at the intersection of homelessness, technology, and emotions. The Virtual Human Interaction Lab is a digital experience that is furthering research on how the technology can be used to affect how people feel empathy. A quote from their website:

'The Fundamental Attribution Error' [...] describes how we blame others when bad things happen to them, but blame the external situations when bad things happen to us. There is a misconception that losing one's home is due to who you are and the choices you make. Becoming Homeless: A Human Experience seeks to counter this irrational tendency. In this immersive virtual reality experience [...], spend days in the life of someone who can no longer afford a home. Interact with your environment to attempt to save your home and to protect yourself and your belongings as you walk in another's shoes and face the adversity of living with diminishing resources.'

Supporters see this sort of immersive technology as 'the ultimate empathy machine' that can help people relate to one another more effectively than other types of media. With VR headsets becoming more common at home and in the workplace, it will be interesting to see how VR might be able to help provide more data and potentially help people sustain greater levels of empathy for longer periods of time. Check out some of the interactive Steam videos.

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