05.02.17 - 10.02.17, Seminar 17062

Beyond VR and AR: Reimagining Experience Sharing and Skill Transfer Towards an Internet of Abilities

The following text appeared on our web pages prior to the seminar, and was included as part of the invitation.


Sharing experiences and knowledge have always been essential for human development. They enable skill transfers and empathy. Over history, mankind developed from oral traditions to cultures of writing. With the ongoing digital revolution, the hurdles to share knowledge and experiences vanish. Already today it is, for example, technically feasible to take and store 24/7 video recordings of one's life. While this example creates massive collections of data, it makes it even more challenging to share experiences and knowledge with others in meaningful ways.

A recurring theme in science fiction literature is the download of the abilities of another human to one's mind. Although current cognitive science and neuroscience strongly suggest that this is impossible, as our minds are embodied; we believe that skill transfer and effective learning will accelerate tremendously given recent technological trends; just to name a few of the enabling technologies, human augmentation using virtual/augmented reality, new sensing modalities (e.g., affective computing) and actuation (e.g., haptics), advances in immersive storytelling (increasing empathy, immersion, communication), etc.

Ultimately, we believe this will lead to “downloadable” experiences and abilities. The effects will definitely not be instant and it will be most likely very different from the SciFi theme. Yet, exactly, these differences we want to explore in this seminar. Computer scientists in wearable computing, ubiquitous computing, human computer interaction, affective computing, virtual reality and augmented reality have been working on related topics and enabling technologies for years. However, the developments happened disjunct from each other. With this seminar we want to bring them together working in the virtual/augmented/mixed reality, ubicomp, sensing and HCI fields discussing also with experts in cognitive science, psychology and education.

While sharing experiences and knowledge, in general communication and socializing, are a long time focus of various research efforts, we think it’s necessary to rethink and redefine experience sharing and skill transfer in light of the following current technological advances:

  1. Affordable Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality systems will become available to consumers in the near future (or already are available).
  2. Advances in new sense sharing technologies (e.g., eye gaze, haptics, odors).
  3. Advances in real-life tracking of physical and cognitive activities and emotional states.
  4. Educators, cognitive scientists and psychologists have now a better understanding of individual and group behaviors, empathy and fundamentals of learning.

The ongoing technical progress in these key areas will enable fundamentally new approaches to capture, share and present human experiences. Ultimately, we want to discuss the possibility and feasibility to make human abilities sharable over distance and time, to exchange abilities through digital means.

Creative Commons BY 3.0 Unported license
Anind K. Dey, Jonna Häkkilä, Niels Henze, Kai Kunze, and Jun Rekimoto