Could Virtual Reality help us reduce traveling needs?

1.- Climate change is the result of a mix of carbon emission produced mainly by humans. CO2 emissions, are primarily generated from the combustion of fossil fuels, unfortunately, these have risen dramatically since the start of the industrial revolution.

Transportation plays a major role in the green-hous-gas (GHG) per sector, in fact, according to the UN the global car fleet is expected to triple by 2050. GHG emissions from transport are growing faster than any other sector. (UN)

cait-global-emissions-sectorSource: Center for climate and energy solutions

When we analyze into further details the purposes of transportation, not so much regarding items but specifically humans, there is a significant amount of travels for meetings and business purposes. There is a considerable amount of emissions generated by transporting people to the workspace as well as to meetings in different cities or countries.

2.- Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality headsets with antler-like sensors attached to the goggles enables the user to join a virtual-reality environment in which they see digital avatars of themselves moving around a simulated environment. (Wall Street Journal)

Although conference calls have had a great impact on the way we communicate, there are still some shortfalls, such as limitation of hand gestures, and human contact. The novelty of having an avatar that represents yourself and others in a shared common space enables a set of different interactions.

VR meetings will allow for nuanced nonverbal communication—proper eye contact, subtle cues such as interpersonal distance, and eventually virtual touch and smell (when desired),” Prof. Bailenson– founding director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab

Virtual-reality systems could replace video conferencing as a common tool for business meetings, that could represent not only time savings but also GHG emission reductions, since traveling for meetings within a city, a country or in the world for meetings won’t be necessary.

3.- The next step to deploy this technology is to improve the internet infrastructure. VR, as well as conference calls, rely on a good internet connection, in many cases is not good enough. Furthermore, enabling VR experiences, through movies and short films can be a compelling start into deploying this technology, by gaining public curiosity and acceptance.

4.- Finally, I see this technology being primarily deployed in the private sector by companies. This could have also a great beneficial impact in terms of cost savings since work travels are expensive, therefore there is a clear incentive for companies to adopt it, and put some effort in the public acceptance. An example of a company working on VR meetings is tvTime.

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2 thoughts on “Could Virtual Reality help us reduce traveling needs?

  1. VR is an exciting and interesting new technology with a lot of potential. One great option is to use VR to host and attend business meetings around the world. This will actually also be an environmentally friendly way of doing so, as the people attending the meeting won’t be required to travel far to go tot the meeting. A large portion of today’s airplane traffic is due to business travelers attending one or two meetings in another city or country. If these meetings could be taken from the office instead, a lot of carbon emissions will be spared. In addition, busy businessmen and -women wouldn’t need to leave their families for an extended period of time several times a month, they could just attend the meeting during a normal day at the office.

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