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Pia Behmuaras is a product manager at Foretell Reality and was guiding our participants through their VR experience during the WORK SPACE ‘Teaching & Learning in the Metaverse’ at our NECE Festival 2023: FUTURES! We had the chance to ask her three questions on the emerging field of virtual reality in connection to psychology.

1. Can you give us a quick rundown of your work and involvement in the field of virtual reality (VR) experiences?

Portrait picture of Pia Behmuaras

“I am a product manager and immersive experience designer for virtual reality. Since 2020, I have been creating therapeutic immersive experiences for a wide range of people. My work started with academic research on the anxiety-reducing impacts of VR experiences and then continued to expand into how social VR can be beneficial for various psychological conditions. Right now, I lead the user interface and user experience design efforts at Foretell Reality (A Subsidiary of the Glimpse Group) for educational and therapeutic multi-user programmes using virtual reality to bring people closer and build meaningful connections.”


2. What would you say are the benefits of connecting therapy/psychological work with the experience of VR touching upon the topic of avatar empowerment?

“Currently, I am working on a social VR platform called Foretell Reality where you enter a playful and rich world of immersive experiences for therapy, education, and soft skills training. Avatars are the superpower of Foretell, as you can customise their appearance, their names, and even how they sound to your liking. This allows you to represent yourself freely, and not worry about your physical appearance during a meeting the same way you would in person. People feel much more comfortable opening up to strangers embodied as avatars because they feel safe and anonymous. Plus, there’s an added layer of playfulness, that often breaks the ice, and leaves less room for any stigma and social stereotyping. You’re an avatar, after all! Make your hair pink or purple, you can change it back with the switch of a button. These benefits are huge in the context of therapy, peer support, and even education. People feel free in their self-expression and have a safe space to play around with their identity.”

3. How do you assess the shift from 2D to 3D and its effect on our way of data consumption / the processing of information?

“Since the beginning of technology, we have been consuming media on 2D interfaces that simulate depth and space, whether on phones, televisions, or computers. With the evolution of virtual reality and spatial computing, we can finally interact with information spatially, as we interact with everything else in our physical world. This way, we learn faster, think more efficiently, and communicate better. Studies have shown that information learned spatially is retained 4 times more than that studied from a traditional book or screen, and this is because of the spatial and emotional involvement that spatial interactions can bring. Data registers quicker, and we have embodied memories of experiences. It’s almost like magic, but it’s in our nature as human beings. Personally, virtual reality has also brought me closer to my body and emotions, allowing me to be closely attuned to myself in a way that most other media formats do not.”

THE CIVICS would like to thank Pia Behmuaras for her time and valuable insights!

Author Martin

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