Virtual and Augmented Reality in Politics
Blazing the Campaign Trail
Focusing on the entertainment value makes it easy to overlook the role of augmented and virtual reality in politics. Let’s take a look at how AR and VR facilitate policy discussions and encourage voters.
Virtual Reality Improves Political Discourse
People can feel very passionate about political issues. That degree of passion sometimes makes it difficult for people to communicate in a civil manner during heated debates. When polarization becomes a general trend, which some might argue it already has, the quality of political discourse naturally suffers. Surveys indicate that approximately 74% of Americans believe the country is very politically divided. Additionally, 85% of Americans believe the quality of political debate in the country has grown markedly worse in recent years.
Virtual reality in politics may be able to change that. In 2016, NBC News developed a “Virtual Democracy Plaza” at Rockefeller Center. In this virtual setting, users’ avatars could attend presidential debate watch parties and participate in live Question and Answer sessions with experts.
Virtual election chatrooms provide new ways of accessing political information. Virtual reality offers an element of interactivity that is missing in televised debates. Instead of watching a one-way broadcast from a television screen, those attending virtual events can also speak with other attendees through avatars. As for safety precautions, users have the option to mute other attendees, and moderators have the power to remove users who failed to behave respectfully.
Experiments in virtual politics represent a unique way to bring people with different political views together. The danger of watching an election debate from the comfort of one’s own home is that someone is unlikely to be surrounded by too many people who disagree with them, and thus an echo chamber of ideas form. Virtual reality politics allow people to watch debates with people outside their community who may not share all their views. More importantly, virtual reality supports discussions that feel more authentic and human than chatting on social media or forums. Applying virtual reality in politics improves the overall quality of political discourse.
Using Augmented Reality in Politics to Engage Young Voters
A flourishing democracy depends on an educated citizenry. Voters must be adequately informed about different policy options to participate in civil society. Yet, traditional communication channels for politics, such as televised debates and campaign rallies, lack engagement amongst younger voters.
It’s easy to understand why. The generations that are coming of age as voters, namely late Millenials and Generation Z, are digitally-native. Those born in the 1990s and 2000s have grown up with the Internet and digital technology, so many traditional elements of political discourse and messaging don’t appeal to them.
Leaders in countries such as Nigeria have recognized this fact. The English-speaking West African nation (and the most populated country on the African continent) saw half of its registered voters in its 2019 federal election aged between 18 and 35. That’s why one party developed an augmented reality for politics mobile app to engage with the youth bulge.
The app boasts two features. To trigger the app, users scan the political party’s logo, such as from a newspaper or poster, with their mobile device’s camera. The app then displays 3D renderings of the presidential and VP hopeful, in which users can pose beside and take a photo to share on social media. Next, the app displays a pre-recorded message from the running pair.
The application helps users access information on-demand about politicians and political issues. Perhaps more importantly, after the multimedia message plays, users have the option to send a message directly to the party. Direct messaging gives users the impression that, to a degree higher than ever, policymakers hear their voices.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality in Politics: Elections of the Future
Political leaders, campaign strategists, and analysts are still experimenting with ways to use virtual reality and augmented reality in politics. Today, candidates use augmented reality to make campaigns more personal. And with virtual reality news coverage, voters learn and discuss the merits of different political platforms with their peers from across the country. In upcoming elections, it might even be possible for voters to attend town halls virtually.
Virtual reality and augmented reality can become powerful tools on the campaign trail. To truly raise awareness and connect individuals, AR and VR applications will need to perform consistently. Ormuco helps in this capacity by providing the necessary IT infrastructure. We leverage 5G mobile networks to accelerate data processing in real-time applications and serve as an autonomous platform to provision and manage a nationwide network of computing nodes. Ormuco handles AR/VR workloads of any kind.