With the development of next generation virtual reality and telepresence technologies, the possibility of experiencing the world from a point-of-view other than that from behind our own eyes is becoming a possibility for all of us. Fully immersive technologies, through which you have the compelling feeling of being in another place or body, are on the near horizon, and scientists and technologists are everyday discovering new ways to directly manipulate your experience of where, what, or even who, you are. As more-and-more people devote time and energy to life in virtual or ‘cyber’ realities—with different degrees of immersion—our ‘cyberselves’, the people who we become in these alternative worlds, could become as important to us as our ‘real’ selves.
The new project, which begins this Autumn, will explore these immersive technologies—virtual and augmented reality, telepresence and teleoperation—that allow the experience of self to be radically altered along physical, temporal and/or social dimensions. By combining approaches from literature and film studies, behavioural science, cognitive science, and philosophy, the project will look at how these experiences could transform human relationships and cultures, and even alter how we see ourselves.
The project will involve experimental studies using a virtual reality environment, and the comparison of immersion in this virtual world with that of experiencing the real world through telepresence (remote presence) interfaces to an advanced humanoid robot. Combining approaches from both the arts and sciences, the project will explore both subjective and objective measures of this immersive experience. As part of the project, a series of public engagement events will be organised including screenings of Science Fiction movies related to the experience of immersion.