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Author: Alantis Green, Technology Consultant

We have grown fond of what we think is the importance of the ocean. Based on the movies we have seen or when we go surfing or swimming to relax on the beach. But if you are not living on the coast, you can never get a complete grasp of how important the ocean is. Many people see the oceans as an out-of-sight and out-of-mind problem. However, oceans are a vital aspect of our environment. Scientists are using virtual reality to build awareness and empathy for oceans.

Oceanic Resources

Despite the ocean being far away from most people; it’s under intense pressure from climate change and overfishing. The ocean resources provide nutritious food for hundreds and millions of people. As capitalism is increasingly becoming less empathic, new players see the ocean as a cash grab. The oceanic economy is projected to jump up to 3 trillion in the next eight years. The rush to a “blue economy” harms the marine environment, harming overall human well-being, and widening the gap of inequality. 

Ocean Empathy 

The rise of the blue economy is causing scientists to argue that the only way to repair the damage is through empathy and humanity. A recent study of 3,500 global leaders sees ocean health as the world’s least important problem. As the rate of overfishing, coral reef decay, and ocean-based animals going extinct is continuously increasing. There needs to be an effort to protect the ocean.  

Fostering Empathy through Virtual Reality 

 A spokesperson from UBC Collete Wabnitz is working on solutions for the future of the High Seas. She and her team, which includes  scientists and psychologists, are working on a solution to inspire people to be pro-environment with the use of virtual reality. Their idea is to combine the future scenarios of the high seas and virtual reality. They are working closey with a  team named Expert VR. In a working virtual reality session, you would be standing on the deck of a ship and you can look around you’ll see fish, and coral, and hear sounds. A complete experience to immerse in what the underwater experience is really like. 

The Reaction

When you are first immersed in this underwater experience it feels really real. The group tested an optimistic scenario and pessimistic scenario. In the optimistic scenario many testers felt as though the experience felt real. The OS began to ask questions and show genuine concern for the ocean. The pessimistic scenario began to show empathy  as well. In some countries global negotiations and governance of the high seas has gone down. 

Empathy Creates Action

 While the scientist can’t necessarily guarantee their venture into this new immersion of virtual reality and empathy would lead to their end goal. They do know their voice, concern, and cause is being heard. So, if you have an idea you believe can change something about this world today. You can use your voice orthis little thing called technology to make a change.