Former Research Projects
Human Interaction Design Lab (HID Lab in short), formerly known as Virtual Neuroscience Lab, has conducted many smaller research projects. Mainly driven by lab’s founder Madis Vasser’s interest to use psychology in Virtual Reality many interesting smaller findings were made.
With partners from private and public sectors we have started to research several important subjects for Virtual Reality such as “Neurohaptics” and “Dynamic Model based Visualization of Complex Processes in Virtual Reality”.
Limelight VR – a software designed to practice public speaking
Limelight VR is an innovative Virtual Reality software that helps people decrease their public speaking anxiety and this making them become a better and more fluent presenter in front of an audience. This tool is useful if you have to prepare for a ceremonial talk, a lecture, a conference keynote, a sales pitch, and almost any situation where you need to talk in front of people.
Limelight VR was originally designed and developed by Virtual Neuroscience Lab involving behavioural scientists. A research was conducted involving 90 subjects.
VR Lab Rats
A small demo software developed by Madis Vasser in 2015. The idea was to put people in the paws of the ordinary lab rat on an ordinary day, going about it’s business and participating in some well-known psychological experiments. These are as follows: the visual cliff (testing depth perception), the elevated plus maze (anxiety) and the dreaded Morris water task (memory). As the result it was surprising how poorly humans behave in some of those simple tasks, compared to animals.
The spinning tunnel illusion
Most people have experienced it in real life, when visiting a local theme-park or science center – it’s the ever-turning cylinder that messes with your sense of balance. In VR we and subjects could definitely know that the ground is stable, yet the sense of balance is still altered. This is a fine example of just how much the brain relies on visual information.
Virtual body threat
The premise – subject’s hands are represented in the virtual space just like they are in reality. Give it a bit of time, move them around and soon the brain “bonds” with the virtual limbs as if they belong to the body. One way to measure the level of ownership of this new-found bodypart is via subjective questionnaires. The other and much interesting approach is to expose the virtual limb to various kinds of threat or virtual pain (sawblades, knives, broken bones – the reasearch literature has it all) and measure the reaction of the real bodypart to these virtual experiences. As data shows, the galvanic skin response goes up nicely when one messes with the virtual body. In our demo we only have matched movement to link the real and the virtual. Another great way to induce virtual body ownership is synchronized tactile feedback – this will be possible on a concumer level as various trackable objects become available. We got much inspiration from the works of Mel Slater and his lab.
NB! Definitely avoid this experiment on subjects who happen to have a fear of sharp things (aka aichmophobia)!