Virtual Reality (VR) is a psychologically powerful medium that allows people to have any experience at the push of a button. Bailenson (communications, Stanford Univ.), founding director of Stanford's Virtual Human Interaction Lab, discusses the purposes, uses, and wonders of VR through a first-person perspective citing decades of research. As with any technology, there are negative as well as positive impacts. The negatives of VR include small side effects such as eye strain but also bigger ramifications such as certain behavior modeling. Bailenson also provides thorough explorations of the benefits, including those for sports training and pain management. In fact, the medical uses are extensive; while not yet medically sanctioned, VR can be used as a distraction from dental anxieties or burn treatments. Also, a positive spin on the behavior modeling aspect is that VR can increase empathy by allowing people to walk in another person's shoes. Bailenson has done a considerable amount of VR research himself, but he also quotes researchers such as psychologist Stanley Milgram, journalist Daniel Grossman, and other experts. VERDICT This firsthand perspective makes for an inviting personal account; readers will enjoy the explanations behind this newly popular technology.—Natalie Browning, Longwood Univ. Lib., Farmville, VA
"Excellent.… A fascinating journey."
"Remarkably interesting... People interested in the current state of virtual reality’s applications will enjoy Bailenson."
"Bailenson provides a clarifying framework for a necessary conversation about what it will mean to ‘be there’ in the twenty-first century. Read this to calibrate the ethical and moral choices ahead."
"[Bailenson’s] enthusiasm is contagious, and he explains complex issues to an audience broader than fellow scientists, providing a real vision of our possibly VR-infused future."
"Few people alive know as much about VR as Jeremy Bailenson. For decades he’s been researching how VR affects humans. Read this before you enter this new world."
"As one of VR’s pioneers, Jeremy Bailenson sheds light on how it works, its benefits, and how it will impact us in the future."
"Virtual reality is changing the way athletes train. This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand and hone performance through VR."
"An accessible introduction [and] a cogent primer to the potential and pitfalls of VR."
"What is Virtual Reality? Everyone is talking about it but very few have really indulged in artistic and well crafted simulations. Jeremy Bailenson takes you beyond the hype and into the profound and empathic ways VR is enhancing every facet of life... from how we communicate to how we are entertained. A must read for anyone who is curious about the world we live in."
"Jeremy Bailenson’s work is unflinching and brave. He helps us see more of our vulnerabilities and our potential than ever before. This book describes the edge of human self-knowledge, and a precipice of human foibles to avoid."
"If you want to understand the most immersive new communications medium to come along since cinema…I’d suggest starting with Mr. Bailenson’s [book]. It’s short, it’s levelheaded and it tells you what you need to know. Among other things, the book answers the sometimes vexing question of what VR is actually good for."
"Nobody has thought longer or deeper than Jeremy Bailenson about how VR will affect society. He takes us on an entertaining tour of what it can do, from giving children thrilling educational experiences to teaching the public about climate change to enhancing the storytelling powers of filmmakers and journalists."
"Jeremy Bailenson's knowledge of VR, from high level issues of hardware design and market dynamics down to details of human interaction and behavior is without equal, and this book is no exception. Experience on Demand contains essential insights and information related to solving those problems, and will be essential reading material for VR experience designers."
[Bailenson’s] enthusiasm is contagious, and he explains complex issues to an audience broader than fellow scientists, providing a real vision of our possibly VR-infused future.
Excellent.… A fascinating journey.
An accessible introduction [and] a cogent primer to the potential and pitfalls of VR.
An expert on the subject explores virtual reality "as the potent and relatively young technology…migrates from industrial and research laboratories to living rooms across the world."Clunky but still spectacular today, virtual reality is unquestionably the Next Big Thing. Bailenson (Communication/Stanford Univ.; co-author: Infinite Reality: Avatars, Eternal Life, New Worlds, and the Dawn of the Virtual Revolution, 2011, etc.), the founding director of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab, delivers a lucid account of how VR works, today's applications (mostly games and education), ongoing research, and its dazzling future. "VR is not some augmentation of a previously existing medium," writes the author, "like adding 3D to movies, or color to television. It's an entirely new medium, with its own unique characteristics and psychological effects, and it will utterly change how we interact with the (real) world around us, and with other people." Wearing a helmet with a screen inside and perhaps other devices such as sensor-equipped gloves, a user enters a seemingly real environment and can interact with it. Since people learn better doing than by watching, VR is already teaching by allowing subjects to walk under oceans and through forests, treating PTSD by re-creating the traumatic event (simply imagining it doesn't work as well), and relieving pain by intense, immersive distraction. Hollywood has taken notice. A working scientist, Bailenson resists the temptation to convert tantalizing laboratory results into revolutionary breakthroughs, and he does not ignore VR's downsides, from simple eyestrain to "simulator sickness" to an ominous blurring between the real and virtual worlds. Producing fake news becomes a snap, and it can teach nasty as well as valuable skills. At least one mass murderer used VR to practice. The "killer app" for VR will be the ability to deal with other people in virtual space. Like miracle cures and a perfect alternate world, it's inevitable—but not yet.A sensible, thoroughly satisfying overview of the next quantum leap in digital technology.