from the no-that's-me-over-there dept.
Papas Fritas writes:
"Kyle Vanhemert reports that a group of researchers in Barcelona are using the Oculus Rift headset to let participants experience the creative process through someone else's eyes and in their latest experiment are letting men and women swap bodies. Two subjects are outfitted with headsets connected so that each participant sees a video stream from point-of-view cameras attached to the other person's rig. The participants are instructed to mimic each other's movements, wordlessly dictating the action in tandem like kids playing with a Ouija board. They start out moving their hands around and touching their arms and bellies, but they then shed clothes, graze their own bare skin, and look into their underwear to give their partner a sense of what it's like to look down and see equipment that's not usually there. The effect is profound says Philippe Bertrand. 'Deep inside you know it's not your body, but you feel like it is.' 'The discovery of 'mirror neurons' by Giacomo Rizzolatti has shown us that you can't conceive an 'I' without an 'us,' Bertrand explains. The group calls it 'The Machine To Be Another' and over the last several months, the group has found a diverse group of researchers interested in their 'embodiment experience platform,' from artists to therapists to anthropologists. Their latest project is focused on VR's potential for fields like gender studies and queer theory, but they're already formulating applications from artistic performances to neuro-rehabilitation. Other studies suggest the effectiveness of embodiment for reducing implicit racial bias. The Machine To Be Another 'aims to promote self understanding, empathy and tolerance among users' across the spectrum. It's basically highly conceptual performance art, though we could see the technology being used in educational settings to help broaden discussions on gender, race, disabilities, and aging."