Enhancing Empathy (and Innovation) through Virtual Reality
Technology is ever changing and rapidly providing possibilities in ways once seen as science fiction. From endless capabilities in our mobile devices to wearable devices like the Fitbit or the latest Apple Watch, we are experiencing our lives in a more connected, aware manner. One type of technology that is gaining traction is virtual reality. Virtual reality devices like Oculus Rift initially were known for use in gaming, but there are other applications of virtual reality. In healthcare, for example, virtual reality is being used to gain empathy for patients. For example, being abl
e to experience what a schizophrenic patient goes through, to better understand how to care for them. Virtual reality has also been used to gain empathy and connect people with others that they may never have thought of before, as discussed in Chris Milk's TED talk, connecting Syrian refuges with a group of people at the World Economic Forum. He says "it [VR] connects humans to other humans in a profound way that I've never seen before and it can change people's perception of each other." Empathy is key for innovation because it allows people to feel, see, and understand what another person goes through. Imagine if you could literally step inside the shoes of your customers. See what they see, hear what they hear, and understand their environment as if you were there. This can lead to endless possibilities for creating innovations that solve real problems never solved before.