Researchers in Barcelona are using the most advanced virtual reality tech on the market to give men and women the first alternate gender experience.
BeAnotherLab, a group of student’s at Barcelona’s University Pompeu Fabra, is using the breakthrough Oculus Rift VR headset in its “The Machine To Be Another” project, which lets male and female experiment participants swap bodies and visualize the experience in real-time.
Subjects are each equipped with their own headset, which projects the opposite video feed from their counterpart’s point-of-view camera while simultaneously being given the same set of body movement instructions.
“Deep inside you know it’s not your body, but you feel like it is,” digital arts student and group co-founder Philippe Bertrand said in a Wired report while describing the group as the “low-budget, Creative Commons” version of teams that have engaged in similar research, like Barcelona’s Event Lab or Stockholm’s Group Ehrsson.
Numerous researchers from various fields have expressed interest in the project, from artistic endeavors to health rehabilitation. Bertrand said the technology also opens doors into ways of examining complex social and psychological ideas about consciousness and reduce issues like gender and racial biases.
“It’s a pretty interesting scenario,” Bertrand said while explaining how the technology could be used increase empathy across the social sphere. “Science is proving out some very hippie concepts, and we’re using a video game head mounted display to bring people closer to each other.”