New Modality Catalyst:
Jessica Outlaw, Virtual Reality Researcher
Jessica Outlaw, M.S., is founder of the Outlaw Center of Immersive Behavioral Science at Concordia University in Portland, Oregon. She also founded The Extended Mind, a research and strategy agency focused on virtual reality and augmented reality. Here’s more about this Catalyst.
Tell us about yourself and your work.
My goal is to advance social science in emerging technologies. I focus on virtual and augmented reality because of their potential to give people new experiences of understanding data, co-locating across distance, and changing spatial awareness. The main question that drives my research is how different forms of embodiment affect decision-making.
"The main question that drives my research is how different forms of embodiment affect decision-making."
What is a cultural phenomenon, experiment, or moment that has inspired you in the past?
The cultural moment that has had the longest impact on me is one that I didn't live through. When I was in college, I took an Art History class on Surrealism and related so much to the artists in that moment. They were trying to make sense of a period of extreme violence (World War I) and the hierarchy of the industrial culture they were born into. They needed dreams and surrealistic imagery to illustrate the chaos and form an identity that worked for them.
What are some of your own favorite past projects? Why do you feel great about them?
In 2018, I interviewed a series of experts from architecture, retail, interior design, and hospitality demos of social virtual spaces. My goal was to learn what principles they used in making good spatial design, and to learn how closely virtual spaces were hitting the mark. I used their insights to publish a series of recommendations to VR creators to help shape virtual spaces to be more inclusive and welcoming to all people.
Where can people find out more about you?
Insights on safety, spatial design, and the user experience of virtual reality can be downloaded from www.extendedmind.io.
Here's the website for The Outlaw Center at Concordia in Portland.
My research has been covered by Fast Company, The Anti-Defamation League, Vice, and CNet.
New Modality Catalysts
The New Modality is about experiments in culture — and the people who do those experiments. NewMo Catalysts are people who do things we admire and want to celebrate. They also help us stay accountable to our values. To learn more about NewMo Catalysts (or nominate someone to be a Catalyst), check out the Catalyst FAQ.
This profile was edited by Katie MacBride. Katie is a writer and co-founder of Anxy magazine. More about Katie at her NewMo profile
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