Does virtual reality provide a greater appreciation for conservation?

Could the experience of a 3D virtual reef improve communication about climate change and help create a better connection to the underwater environment? Jeremy Bailenson, professor of communication at Stanford University, says “Virtual reality can give everyone, regardless of where they live, the kind of experience needed to generate the urgency required to prevent environmental calamity”.

The Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Research has developed a 3D virtual reef prototype that is being tested around Germany at different exhibits including the Science Station and M.S. Wissenschaft. We will be using these opportunities to engage with the public about their 3D experience and to improve our communication tools.

Additionally, we have reached out to the Standford Virtual Human Interaction Lab to access, and hopefully include in our study, the recent software they have developed in virtual reality on ocean acidification, which millions of children are being exposed to through Google Expeditions beta version .

Our team met in October 2016 to develop the workplan for the next year. We have hired a student worker and planned the schedule of events where we will be surveying people on their experience with the 3D virtual reef. The software and hardware needed to test and evaluate the 3D virtual reef is on order. Additionally, we have designed the classroom experiment where we will test the different communication mediums in a controlled environment. We are looking forward to seeing you at the Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Research in the near future.

More to come!