1st "Virtual Reality as a Transformative Technology to Develop Empathy" Conference.
By the "empathic Reactive MediaLab Coalition" (eRMLab Coalition).
Back To Schedule
Monday, June 18 • 9:00am - 9:45am
Opening Ceremony (Spanish)

Sign up or log in to save this to your schedule, view media, leave feedback and see who's attending!

This International Summer Symposium "Virtual Reality as a Transformative Technology to Develop Empathy" arises as a result of the incredibly favorable reception by students that took place in the School of Medicine at UAM University, during the Workshops "Virtual Reality monitored with Biofeedback", taught by the Department of Psychiatry alongside Optimal XR (Subject "Medical Psychology", First Semester, Academic Course 2017-18).
The recently created research line, "empathic Reactive Media Lab" (eRMLab) of the “Education, Development and Health” Research Group (UAM), considers technology, specially Virtual Reality technology, as a positive instrument capable of facilitating more efficient and healthy interpersonal communication.

The “empathic Reactive Media Lab (eRMLab)” is created with the mission to do research and application on the progressive adaptation and personalization of VR experiences via biometric technology and deep data gathering to read and react to users based on their body rhythms, emotions, preferences, and data points.

Customization range from the interchange of the visual aspect of embodied avatars to induce psychological improvements, personalization of the contextual VR environment to adapt to different cultures, the emotional tone of the music that is playing during the experiences, to different narrative endings…

The line of research includes scientific disciplines such as neurocinematics, neuromarketing, biometric tech, virtual reality and machine learning algorithms in conjunction with the storytelling narrative and visual arts to be applied in disciplines such as education in healthcare, general well-being, interpersonal and intrapersonal emotional education.


DAY 1. Monday, June 18th

DAY 2. Tuesday, June 19th

DAY 3. Wednesday, June 20th


Module 1. Introduction

Module 2. Reactive Media for a Healthier Lifestyle

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.” -Joseph Campbell

Emotional Intelligence has been ingrained in storytelling since the dawn of time. You are using your face to express emotion but you are also looking at your audience facial expressions and adapting the story in real time. If they are interested you keep going, if they are not you change the curse of the narrative. In the past storytelling was very fluid, but today most of the content we consume is not adaptive. Today’s technology has lots of IQ but no EQ, lots of cognitive intelligence but no emotional intelligence. So, what if the media we consume could sense our emotions in real time?What if two people had entirely different experiences watching the same content, all based on how they felt or who they are? That’s where reactive media comes in. Could we create VR worlds that adapt to you and could provide you with the emotional comfort and support that your inner reality could be yearning for?

Module 3. Designing Towards Empathy. The Narrative Self

“Sapiens rule the world, because we are the only animal that can cooperate flexibly in large numbers. We can create mass cooperation networks, in which thousands and millions of complete strangers work together towards common goals. This mysterious glue is made of stories, not genes. We cooperate effectively with strangers because we believe in things like gods, nations, money and human rights. Yet none of these things exists outside the stories that people invent and tell one another.” -Yuval Noah Harari

Since the dawn of times, human beings have used stories and art to understand the world we live in. VR is the first medium that actually makes the jump from our internalization of an author's expression of an experience, to our experiencing it firsthand. In all other mediums, your consciousness interprets the medium. In VR, your consciousness is the medium.
¿Could we use the power of VR storytelling and immersion to induce healthy positive changes in behaviour?
¿Could we encode positive psychological hacks in stories so media could expose the best side of our human condition?
¿Is VR the ultimate “empathy machine”? ¿How could we redirect the power of literature into shaping our future VR lives?
¿Could we create VR characters that reflect different personality patterns so we could use them in storytelling to foster empathy and better understand ourselves and others?

Module 4. Designing towards Empathy. The Experiencing Self

“The experiencing self lives its life continuously. It has moments of experience, one after the other.” -Daniel Khaneman
¿What is the relationship between the stories we tell ourselves and the physiology that our bodies experience?
Biometrics is the measurement of human characteristics that shape our identity and our behaviour. Self-tracking biometric technologies capable of measuring different signals (brainwave activity, facial expressions, emotional tone of voice, skin conductivity, muscle tension, heart rate variability…) are becoming readily available to the mainstream consumer.
¿What information could we gather about our inner lives just by making use of these technologies? ¿Could we redirect their insight away from marketing manipulation and more into self-awareness and personal development?

Module 5. AI & Machine Learning for Human Development

“Technology is that force that can make something scarce into abundant” -Peter Diamandis

Artificial intelligence and Machine Learning are revolutionizing the way we understand what technology is capable of. We’ll explore the latest developments in technology that are impacting the VR industry:
1) Brain-Computer-Interfaces (BCI’s) that allow the user to interact with the VR environment just with thoughts.
2) Advanced machine learning and biosignal processing algorithms to decode real-life facial expressions tens of milliseconds before they appear on a user’s face, and instantly replicates that expression on their avatar
 And 3) AI-generated virtual environments that generate in real time in front of the user. The latest AI developments that the industry is generating in the fascinating world of Virtual Reality.

avatar for Javier Ortega García, PhD.

Javier Ortega García, PhD.

Vice-Rector of Innovation, Transfer and Technology, Biometrics and Data Pattern Analytics (BiDA Lab). Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM)
avatar for Juan Antonio Vargas Núñez MD, PhD.

Juan Antonio Vargas Núñez MD, PhD.

Dean, School of Medicine. Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM)

Monday June 18, 2018 9:00am - 9:45am CEST
Sala Exterior