TNO receives Research Grant from Meta for Social eXtended Reality (XR) study

Immersive human communication
7 December 2022

TNO received a Research Grant from Meta for a study of the effects of using Social XR (eXtended Reality) in the workplace. The €335.315 contribution, in the form of a grant, comes from Meta's 'XR Programs and Research Fund.' Social XR is a collection of technologies that allow individuals to meet each other remotely in 3D. The study is being conducted independently by TNO and will be completed by 2024.

Because of the pandemic, the way people work has completely changed in the past two years. Never before have so many people worked remotely. Besides advantages such as a better work-life balance, this has also brought disadvantages.

For example, recent research shows that online video conferencing in 2D can lead to increased fatigue, depression and loneliness, due to lack of social connection. The focus of this new study is therefore whether these effects also occur when using Social XR.

Remote social interaction

XR is the collective term for technologies where the physical and virtual worlds merge such as VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality). Social XR refers to XR-based applications and platforms that enable multiple people to share, communicate and collaborate.

Previous TNO pilots (see paper Virtual Visits) on a smaller scale show the potential of XR applications to facilitate remote social interaction. The current study provides an opportunity to research the effects on a larger scale.

The research focuses on different meeting formats in different settings (face-to-face, digital, Social XR). Multiple aspects such as quality of communication, engagement, productivity, attention and social presence will be looked at during the study.

Participants' experiences will first be monitored in a lab setting and then in a real life work setting. The first results are expected in 2023 and the final results in 2024.

Meta XR Program & Research Fund

The XR Programs and Research Fund was established to contribute to knowledge about the metaverse. With it, Meta is investing $50 million to boost collaboration with industrial partners, civil rights organizations, governments, non-profit organizations and academic institutions in jointly creating the metaverse. TNO is the first Dutch organization to participate in this program.

The metaverse refers to the interconnection of digital worlds in which people can interact online and in real time. It is a network of shared 3D spaces. The financial contribution from the fund is a grant, meant to facilitate research into the building blocks of the metaverse.

By doing so, Meta provides organizations with autonomy and flexibility to carry out their research. Meta is not involved in the studies and once completed, results are made publicly available to advance further innovation in the industry.

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