Opportunities with uncertainties

Adopting immersive Virtual Reality (VR) technology in the early stages of design appeals to designers, as research has shown that immersing people in a virtual environment can efficiently elicit empathy and facilitate deeper understanding of out-group members. However, after exploring and synthesis literature across the fields of design, psychology, and neuroscience, the present study found the opportunities VR opens to be accompanied by uncertainties. In this study, we (1) identified the benefits of adopting immersive VR in the early design stage, such as enhancing empathy and promoting design equity, (2) discovered previously unrealised problems that VR may bring to the design process, especially potential biases owing to emotional connections, and (3) determined a future direction for relevant research: gaining deeper knowledge about operators’ mental activities to mitigate biases and uncertainties.