philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Prison Contractor That Charges Inmates Sky-High Phone Fees Proposes Virtual Reality Visitation

As Vice first reported, Global Tel Link (GTL) recently filed a patent that describes a “system and method for personalized virtual reality experience in a controlled environment.” It continues, “A system and method for initiating a personalized virtual reality session via a virtual reality communication system in a controlled environment is disclosed.”

In effect, what this describes is a VR system by which incarcerated persons could interact with others outside the prison—VR visitation using digital avatars, basically. Other possible uses could be allowing inmates “for a brief time, imagine himself outside or away from the controlled environment.”

GTL obviously intends the ways in which this system can be used to be completely at the whims of prison officials, who typically surveil any venue of access to the outside. The patent describes a “monitoring system” that “continuously monitors visual information of the virtual reality session for any prohibited... actions performed by a user’s avatar that are determined by monitoring center to be inappropriate for a virtual reality session.”

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