XR Portal Brings You Closer to ‘XR for Good’ Content
By Casey Hawkins
Maryam Sabour, a VR/AR innovator, has just completed her “passion project” called XR Portal, which enables anyone to easily search and discover ‘XR for Good’ content. The idea came about while she was in law school at McGill University working on a research project on climate change and how immersive technology is a beneficial tool for non-profit campaigns trying to affect change in this regard. As she began to search for immersive content on climate change, she found that content was distributed sporadically across multiple platforms and hidden among leisurely or irrelevant content. Trying to solve her own problem, she started curating social good content.
As a consultant to several AR/VR companies, many who are focused on location-based entertainment such as museums or aquariums, they too would ask her to help them source content about various topics for educational purposes. Alas, XR Portal was born with the objective to make XR educational and social good content open, accessible, and most of all, discoverable.
Immersive virtual environments enable perspective taking, whereby one is placed in the shoes of another through mental simulation. When one takes the virtual perspective of say another person or an animal, “this leads to an increased mental overlap of the self and other, which induces feelings of closeness and empathy and increases helping intentions and behavior.” Thus, Maryam believes that XR content can create positive behavioral changes. Whether your cause is to promote climate change, women’s equality, or animal rights, any social issue depicted effectively through XR can transport users in a way that allows them to build compassion and action towards your social cause.For example, in a study measuring this effect, participants who experienced XR content where they were granted the “superpower” of flight were more likely to show altruistic behaviors in the real world (i.e. helping a researcher pick up a spilled cup of pens) compared to those who rode as a passenger in a virtual helicopter. These studies have been replicated to show similar effects in cases of racism, ageism, sexism and even speciesism. This means that XR content enables a novel way of allowing us to experience the world through the eyes of another, in a way that can actually encourage us to change our behavior.
As this content evolves, XR Portal will be the gateway to these immersive perspectives, and the hope is to empower creators of XR social good and educational content and to make it accessible for all. Every person and thing experiences the world differently. The mission is to create an empathetic society by enabling individuals to immerse themselves within diverse perspectives.