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Experience on Demand

What Virtual Reality Is, How It Works, and What It Can Do

Jeremy Bailenson


List Price: 28.95*
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Other Editions of This Title:
Digital Audiobook (1/29/2018)
MP3 CD (1/30/2018)
Compact Disc (1/30/2018)
Compact Disc (1/30/2018)
Paperback (2/12/2019)


An in-depth look at virtual reality and how it can be harnessed to improve our everyday lives.

Virtual reality is able to effectively blur the line between reality and illusion, pushing the limits of our imagination and granting us access to any experience imaginable. With well-crafted simulations, these experiences, which are so immersive that the brain believes they’re real, are already widely available with a VR headset and will only become more accessible and commonplace. But how does this new medium affect its users, and does it have a future beyond fantasy and escapism?

In Experience on Demand, Jeremy Bailenson draws on two decades spent researching the psychological effects of VR and other mass media to help readers understand this powerful new tool. He offers expert guidelines for interacting with VR and describes the profound ways this technology can be put to use—not to distance ourselves from reality, but to enrich our lives and influence us to treat others, the environment, and even ourselves better. In the world of VR, a football quarterback plays a game against a competing team hundreds of times before even stepping onto the field; members of the United Nations embody a young girl in a refugee camp going through her day-to-day life; and veterans once again walk through the streets where they had experienced trauma.

There are dangers and many unknowns in using VR, but it also can help us hone our performance, recover from trauma, improve our learning and communication abilities, and enhance our empathic and imaginative capacities. Like any new technology, its most incredible uses might be waiting just around the corner. Experience on Demand is the definitive look at the risks and potential of VR—a must-read for navigating both the virtual and the physical worlds ahead.

Praise For Experience on Demand: What Virtual Reality Is, How It Works, and What It Can Do

If you want to understand the most immersive new communications medium to come along since cinema…I’d suggest starting with Mr. Bailenson’s [book]. It’s short, it’s levelheaded and it tells you what you need to know. Among other things, the book answers the sometimes vexing question of what VR is actually good for.
— Wall Street Journal

Few people alive know as much about VR as Jeremy Bailenson. For decades he’s been researching how VR affects humans. Read this before you enter this new world.
— Kevin Kelly, founding editor of Wired and author of The Inevitable

Remarkably interesting... People interested in the current state of virtual reality’s applications will enjoy Bailenson.
— New York Times

Virtual reality is changing the way athletes train. This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand and hone performance through VR.
— Joe Montana, Hall of Fame quarterback

Excellent primer on the subject [of virtual reality]… It promises to be a fascinating journey.
— San Francisco Chronicle

Jeremy Bailenson’s work is unflinching and brave. He helps us see more of our vulnerabilities and our potential than ever before. This book describes the edge of human self-knowledge, and a precipice of human foibles to avoid.
— Jaron Lanier, VR pioneer and author of You Are Not A Gadget

Bailenson provides a clarifying framework for a necessary conversation about what it will mean to ‘be there’ in the twenty-first century. Read this to calibrate the ethical and moral choices ahead.
— Sherry Turkle, professor of the social studies of science and technology, MIT, and author of Reclaiming Conversation

An accessible introduction, a cogent primer, to the potential and pitfalls of VR.
— Washington Post

As one of VR’s pioneers, Jeremy Bailenson sheds light on how it works, its benefits, and how it will impact us in the future.
— Young Sohn, president and chief strategy officer, Samsung Electronics

Nobody has thought longer or deeper than Jeremy Bailenson about how VR will affect society. He takes us on an entertaining tour of what it can do, from giving children thrilling educational experiences to teaching the public about climate change to enhancing the storytelling powers of filmmakers and journalists.
— Laurene Powell Jobs, President of Emerson Collective

What is Virtual Reality? Everyone is talking about it but very few have really indulged in artistic and well crafted simulations. Jeremy Bailenson takes you beyond the hype and into the profound and empathic ways VR is enhancing every facet of life... from how we communicate to how we are entertained. A must read for anyone who is curious about the world we live in.
— Jane Rosenthal, Producer and Co-Founder of Tribeca Enterprises

Jeremy Bailenson's knowledge of VR, from high level issues of hardware design and market dynamics down to details of human interaction and behavior is without equal, and this book is no exception. Experience on Demand contains essential insights and information related to solving those problems, and will be essential reading material for VR experience designers.

— Philip Rosedale, Founder of High Fidelity and Second Life

W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393253696, 304pp.

Publication Date: January 30, 2018

About the Author

Jeremy Bailenson is professor of communication at Stanford University and founding director of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab. His writing has appeared in the Washington Post, Slate, and the San Francisco Chronicle. He lives in Redwood City, California.