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Institutions such as schools and universities can greatly benefit by using these technologies. Pixabay

A virtual human can be as good as a flesh-and-blood one when it comes to helping people practice new leadership skills, according to new research. Researchers at the Human Interface Technology Lab New Zealand at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch wanted to find out if computer-generated role-players in virtual and mixed reality settings could provide similar levels of effectiveness to address some of the drawbacks to traditional training techniques.

In virtual reality (VR), participants are completely immersed in a digital world. In mixed reality (MR), elements of the digital world are overlaid onto the physical world. They designed eight virtual humans, as well as realistic VR and MR environments using commercially available software and hardware and recruited 30 people, split into three groups, who would undergo training using a well-known leadership model.


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One group involved interactions between leadership trainees and two human role-players who acted as subordinates. The second group interacted with virtual human subordinates in a VR world, while the last group met in an MR setting where participants could see virtual humans in a real office space. All three groups improved their performance between the pre-and post-training session, while the MR cohort had a statistically significant mean increase.


In virtual reality (VR), participants are completely immersed in a digital world. In mixed reality (MR), elements of the digital world are overlaid onto the physical world. Pixabay

“The most remarkable finding is that virtual human role-players have been shown to be as effective as real human role-players to support the practice of leadership skills,” said lead author Gonzalo Suarez. The findings are published in the journal Frontiers in Virtual Reality.

ALSO READ: Virtual Reality Can Reduce Types Of Nerve Injuries Pain

“Participants were able to perceive their real bodies and characteristics of the physical room where the experiment was conducted while interacting with virtual humans,” he noted. The current pandemic is an example of how extended reality technologies — a term that refers to all environments using computer-generated graphics and wearables — could be applied. “Institutions such as schools and universities can greatly benefit by using these technologies,” Suarez noted. (IANS/JC)


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The aim of the book is to teach children that families can exist in different forms, and show them how to accept the diversity in family backgrounds.

By Siddhi Jain

Delhi-based author Pritisha Borthakur is set to release her new book, 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories'. The 1,404-word children's book was put together to address a new kind of societal debacle in the family system. The author says the aim is to teach children that families can exist in different forms, and show them how to accept the diversity in family backgrounds.

The author who named the book after her twin sons -- Puhor and Niyor -- is a parent who has seen and heard the tales of ridicule and discrimination suffered by many in India and beyond. She says the book is an artistic illustration for kids that details how different families can live and coexist. Whether it's children with two dads or two moms, children with a single dad or single mom, and even multiracial family units, Borthakur's book teaches love, understanding, and compassion towards unconventional families.

Beyond race, gender, color, and ethnicity which have formed the bases for discrimination since the beginning of time, this book aims to bring to light a largely ignored issue. For so long, single parents have been treated like a taboo without any attempt to understand their situations; no one really cares how or why one's marriage ended but just wants to treat single parents as villains simply for choosing happiness and loving their children.

Homosexual parents, a relatively new family system, is another form that has suffered hate and discrimination for many years. Pritisha emphasizes the need to understand that diversity in people and family is what makes the world beautiful and colourful. 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race, and even differences in background

four children standing on dirt during daytime 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race and even differences in background. | Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash


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