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A Virtual-Reality Program to Conquer the Fear of Public Speaking | The New Yorker

Glossophobia, the fear of public speaking

He showed me how to use the program to teleport across cavernous halls and land inches away from strangers, where I could admire rogue gray hairs on their heads and fine webs of wrinkles on their slacks. I was drawn to a woman sitting in a middle row of a banquet-hall audience. She appeared to be miserably bored, as if waiting for a train that would never arrive. She had dun-colored hair, worn in a bun that did not suit her. I reached out to touch it. She blinked, and my hands disappeared from view, sinking into the depth of her head. I backed off and marvelled at the sight of my alternate self’s hands, which were covered with barely detectable freckles and hair follicles. Marshall helped me adjust the size to more closely resemble my own.

I styled everyone in the program in casual, just-stopping-by-the-bookstore clothing, adjusted the gender ratio to include more women, and set the audience rudeness level as high as I could. Now everyone assembled was checking their phones, crossing their arms, or yawning theatrically. I spotted kindness on only one face. Ned, as I decided to call him, was a balding man in a gray cardigan. His hopeful eyebrows told me that he’d been through a lot.

Even though I knew that I was alone in my kitchen, in the middle of the day, and that Ned and his rude friends were illusory, my nerves kept tripping me up. A man who was seated near me at a conference table picked at some lint on his trousers, and I lost my footing and had to start the recording over. Again and again, I recited my spiel over a soundtrack of coughing and an occasional unsilenced mobile device. When I made it all the way to the end of my remarks, the crowd granted me a lackluster round of applause.

Thanks to a real-time “heat map” that tracks a user’s visual attention, I could plainly see that my gaze favors the left side of the room. I watched the words “very” and “so” rise faithfully from my mouth like bubbles.

My avatar—who had my round face and slumped posture—appeared during the playbacks. From my position at the edge of the imaginary room, all I could do was watch her ape my body movements and listen to the recording of my speech. The program designates a grade at the end of each playback, factoring in gaze distribution, pace, pauses, reliance on filler words, and hand activity. Five days in, my scores still hovered around seventy per cent. (My dead-fish hands earned consistent fourteens.)

But, in the group settings, Ned was always somewhere to be found, soothing me with a look of compassionate distress.

While the other authors spoke, I located a young woman whose wide eyes and bobbing head suggested a sympathetic soul—a new, real-life Ned. When it was my turn to speak, I focussed on her and stepped into the light.
temoignage  fun  speaking  public  stress  vr  tool  simulation  social  technique  practice  howto  idea  entrepreneurial 
may 2019 by aries1988
Twitter
Not to be dramatic, but I think this interactive sand map that shows changing topography is one of the coolest thin…
dem  geography  gis  terrain  visualization  vr 
november 2018 by aries1988
Dawn of the New Everything by Jaron Lanier — virtual virtues
The most optimistic argument in this book is that people will still produce the data on which AI systems are trained. That makes the algorithms only an imperfect derivative of our human world, and by definition inferior. They will only be credible to the extent that we choose to bow to them.
VR  book  ai 
november 2017 by aries1988
The Economist - Films
The Economist offers authoritative insight and opinion on international news, politics, business, finance, science, technology and the connections between them.
vr  video 
march 2017 by aries1988

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