Dr Eugene Ohu, a Senior Lecturer at the Lagos Business School (LBS) is working with Meta (formerly Facebook) to conduct a Virtual Reality (VR) study across Africa. The Virtual Human Computer Interaction (VHCI) Lab at the business school, headed by Dr Ohu will conduct cross-cultural academic research to explore the extent to which participation in a VR game design and play can increase empathy and compassion. The study, titled “Identity & Ethnic Discrimination in Africa: from VR-Perspective-taking to Action”, will take place across four states in Nigeria and Kenya and will focus on ethnic identity and discrimination to curb ethnic tensions, violent conflicts, and wars in African countries.
The VHCI lab explores the implications of the immersive, interactive, and perspective-taking characteristics of technologies like computers, mobile devices and Virtual and Augmented Reality for character development, learning, behaviour modification, well-being and productivity.
Speaking on the support from Meta, the VHCI Lab Director Dr Eugene Ohu said “Since 2018, we have been intrigued by the perspective-taking possibilities of immersive technologies, like VR, and its impact on users; how VR may be used to elicit or increase empathy and compassion and its use in improving mental health outcomes. We are excited to partner with Meta to extend and deepen our curiosities to broader contexts. We feel privileged to contribute to a greater understanding of the possibilities of the Metaverse, which will play a great role in work and non-work domains.”
In a statement on the Meta-VHCI collaboration, the Dean of LBS, Prof. Chris Ogbechie, stated “I am thrilled that Meta will be partnering with the Lagos Business School VHCI Lab on a virtual reality study across the African continent. This is a validation of our core commitment to building a sustainable business. Virtual reality is the technology of the future and the LBS VHCI Lab research with Meta will explore the endless possibilities in creating a virtual world that allows people to see and feel things.”
Meta’s support for the VHCI Lab is part of a $50 million global investment in global research and programme partners to help build the metaverse collaboratively.