Andrea Won, an assistant professor within the Department of Communication at Cornell University, will lead the Wednesday, September 13, Info Sci Colloquium. Won directs the Virtual Embodiment Lab, which focuses on how mediated experiences change people’s perceptions, especially in immersive media. Her research areas include the clinical applications of virtual reality, and how nonverbal behavior as rendered in virtual environments affects collaboration and teamwork. Andrea Stevenson Won completed her PhD in the Virtual Human Interaction Lab in the Department of Communication at Stanford University. She also holds an MS in Biomedical Visualization from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Title: Transformations in Virtual Reality

Abstract: Virtual reality alters our perceptions of ourselves and our surroundings by replacing real sensory information with mediated content, and by updating this content as we move in the virtual environment. This allows us to have experiences that seem real, although they may be too dangerous, too expensive, or too far away to experience in reality. However, these experiences, although captivating, are comparatively prosaic. Virtual reality also allows us to have impossible experiences—ones in which our actions are represented in ways that cannot happen in real life. In this talk I will discuss the effects of such transforming experiences. I’ll discuss how we can compare the effects of virtual reality to those that occur when using other media, and how these effects may benefit users. While such transformations may lead to better mutual understanding in social and collaborative experiences, more research is needed. How can we share resources to allow the broader use of virtual reality as a research tool, and the more widespread study of virtual reality as a medium?