Facebook IQ feature vTime in Study 'How Virtual Reality Facilitates Social Connection'

"To see that people are responding so well means we can bring billions of people closer together and that's an exciting future for us." - Rachel Franklin, Head of Social Virtual Reality at Facebook. Watch Facebook IQ use vTime to experiment with virtual communication. 

"You’re sitting on a train across from someone you’ve never met. You fall into conversation, chatting about everything from your hobbies to relationships to life milestones. One other detail—you’re wearing an Oculus Rift. The train is virtual, and you and your new acquaintance appear as avatars. How does this affect your level of engagement? Your ability to establish an emotional connection?" - Facebook IQ Study - How Virtual Reality Facilitates Social Connection

Facebook IQ, the insights unit of the social network, used vTime to conduct a study into emotional engagement through virtual conversations. 

The team asked 60 people to have a one-on-one conversation with a stranger. Half of the conversations took place in vTime, whilst the test subject was wearing an Oculus Rift headset.

Neurons Inc, an applied neuroscience company, was commissioned by Facebook to study of cognitive and emotional responses of the participants. Neurons Inc wired each person with high resolution electroencephalography (EEG) scanners, to track electrical activity in the brain, along with eye trackers. The level of comfort of the participants was then measured throughout their conversation.

And the results were heart-warming. 93% of participants said that they liked their virtual conversation partner, with a particularly positive response coming from the participants that had been identified as introverted.

The study also revealed that people were surprised by how comfortable they felt revealing personal information. Several noted that interacting in virtual reality reduced appearance-based judgements.

Having watched friendships blossom across the world throughout in our first year in the wild, the report added an element of scientific proof to the user stories that come from our community every day. Read the full report here.

Vicky Roberts (Director of Marketing and Business Development)