Virtual reality as a tool for cross-cultural communication: an example from military team training
A major problem with communication across cultures, whether professional or national, is that simple language translation if often insufficient to communicate the concepts. This is especially true when the communicators come from highly specialized fields of knowledge or from national cultures with long histories of divergence. This problem becomes critical when the goal of the communication is national negotiation dealing with such high risk items as arms negotiation or trade wars. Virtual Reality technology has considerable potential for facilitating communication across cultures, by immersing the communicators within multiple visual representations of the concepts, and providing control over those representations. Military distributed team training provides a model for virtual reality suitable for cross cultural communication such as negotiation. In both team training and negotiation, the participants must cooperate, agree on a set of goals, and achieve mastery over the concepts being negotiated. Team training technologies suitable for supporting cross cultural negotiation exist (branch wargaming, computer image generation and visualization, distributed simulation), and have developed along different lines than traditional virtual reality technology. Team training de-emphasizes the realism of physiological interfaces between the human and the virtual reality, and emphasizes the interaction of humans with each other and with intelligent simulated agents within the virtual reality. This approach to virtual reality is suggested as being more fruitful for future work.
Out of print 11/07/2007.
This paper was published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 1668
Visual Data Interpretation, Joanna R. Alexander, Editors, pp.28-38