Virtual Reality Lab aims to eliminate Public Speaking Anxiety
The University of Hawaii at Manoa has opened a new virtual reality lab to help students, faculty, and staff improve their speaking skills.
The VR lab is equipped with VR headsets and software that provides feedback on users’ performance. During the simulation, they find themselves in a virtual lecture hall or classroom full of audience members, where they are asked to give a speech. Meanwhile, eye-tracking measures eye contact with the virtual audience and the VR controllers provide information about hand gestures.
Word choice and the most frequently used words or expressions are also included in the detailed evaluation. If desired, the system can also provide real-time feedback during the virtual reality presentation. To practice specific upcoming speeches, participants can load their own PowerPoint presentations into the VR environment and use them during the simulation.
VR helps to communicate research results in a more understandable way
The VR lab is designed to help users overcome their fear of public speaking or improve their public speaking skills. In the case of researchers, the specific goal is to communicate research results in a more understandable way.
According to the project leaders, the feedback from users has been overwhelmingly positive. Currently, the lab is only available to the university community. At a later date, the public will also have access. However, priority will be given to researchers funded by the National Science Foundation.
The project is led by the Center for Science Communication in the Department of Communication Studies and was funded by the National Science Foundation.
VR education on the rise at universities
The University of Hawaii’s VR lab is an example of the growing importance of virtual reality in education and training. Since 2022, a large-scale study has been underway in the U.S. to determine how VR can be effectively used at universities in the future. The focus is on teaching soft skills in virtual reality.
Ohio State University recently unveiled a VR training program to prepare first responders for disasters. In the medical field, market researchers are even predicting the potential for VR and AR to become a billion-dollar market.
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