Being there

To create digital technologies for mediating presence, psychologists and computer scientists have been exploring mediation by the senses and the brain in relation to mediation by technology, in “(tele-)presence”.

Hundreds of experiments have been carried out to create and analyse the sense of presence in virtual environments. Different soft- and hardware applications have been created and studied to better understand how virtual experiences become real experiences for people involved. The target is to create the sense of ‘being-there’ (Lombard & Jones 2007). A typical experiment concerns the break out of a fire in a virtual environment such as Starlab in Barcelona orchestrated. When people start to run away from a virtual fire, the sense of presence is high: these people are convincingly engaged in a situation of ‘being there’ (Spanlang et al 2007). As technology improves, VR is becoming a consumer product entering our homes and lives (Slater 2014).
Most studies on facilitating the sense of presence in virtual worlds, explore our capacity of perception, attribution, imagination and cognitive capacities when triggered or seduced by specific configurations of technology. Reliability, validity, sensitivity, robustness, non-intrusiveness, and convenience are criteria to which the literature refers (IJsselsteijn, 2004, Hendrix & Barfield, 1999). Both objective and subjective methodologies for measuring results have been developed (van Baren & IJsselsteijn 2004). Objective corroborative methodologies include psycho-physiological measures, neural correlates, behavioural measures and task performance measures. Subjective methodologies include (many) presence questionnaires, continuous assessment, qualitative measure, psychophysical measures and subjective corroborative measures.

CN , Frances Brazier