Envisioning a Better Reality: How VR and AR are Progressing the Global Goals

Oct 31, 2018 · 3 min read

By Annie Rosenthal as part of the 2018 +SocialGood series on emerging technologies

Technology has continuously shifted how we view and interact with reality. This relationship has become even stronger with the advent of virtual and augmented reality technology. These new technologies are improving healthcare, connecting populations through new powerful forms of storytelling, and helping us envision a better world.

The United Nations is embracing this emerging technology to raise awareness, increase empathy, and advance solutions. The United Nation’s own campaigns on VR are working to build empathy, raise awareness, train new experts, and help with therapy. Development experts, policymakers, researchers, and individuals are also exploring how to leverage these technologies to support the Global Goals.

Supporting Global Health Efforts

Virtual and augmented reality are being used to expand access to medical training, allowing medical students to work with tools and practice surgeries that they may not have physical access to. Patients are also using these technologies to mediate the stress of painful treatments, be exposed to helpful therapies, and more. From cancer and mental health patients to dentists, nurses, and other healthcare practitioners, a visit to different realities is helping improve care worldwide.

Implementing Innovative Education

Virtual and augmented reality is also transforming the way we learn. UNICEF-funded projects TeliportMe and Suzhou Crenovator Lab Corp enable children to learn in new, engaging, and immersive ways. VR and AR also broaden access to education. For example, Experience Chemistry allows students who may not have access to chemistry labs to conduct virtual experiments.

Increasing Empathy for Global Causes

Stanford University professor Jeremy Bailenson’s research findings on virtual reality showed “that VR causes more behavior change, causes more engagement, causes more influence than other types of traditional media.” This influence has been proven through charity fundraising: Research has shown that experiencing a cause through VR significantly boosts a person’s likelihood to donate compared with learning about a need through more traditional formats.

While the full power of virtual and augmented reality storytelling is still being determined, many organizations, including the UN, are using it to increase support and funds for development.

Join +SocialGood throughout November as we explore the many ways these technological tools are being used to progress the Global Goals. Share your thoughts, solutions, and ideas with #SocialGoodTech!

Stay-tuned for our #SocialGoodTech Twitter chat on virtual and augmented reality! More information to come soon.

A global community of changemakers united around a shared vision for a better world in 2030. A project of the UN Foundation in support of the United Nations.

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