Criffin is supporting the University of California Merced with public speaking VR simulation software Limelight VR for scientific research. Criffin has given full access to the source code to UC Merced Cognitive and Information Sciences Lab.
“Our lab conducts research on ways that people respond to threatening situations, for example perceptual, behavioral, and/or decision biases,” Assistant Professor of Cognitive and Information Sciences Colin Holbrook explained. “In particular, we seek to identify those responses which are unique to particular sorts of threats, for example, threats related to social isolation, or disease transmission, or violence,” he added.
The idea of UC Merced Cognitive and Information Sciences Lab with respect to the LimeLight would be to modify it so that, for example, some of the characters appear visibly ill/pathogenic. The lab will also create a version in which a character behaves threateningly. By comparing responses to public speaking, pathogen threat, and threats of physical violence, they will hopefully gain insights into the similarities and differences between biases related to these distinct modes of threat. In addition, the lab works on ways that specific threats may alter reliance on technology in human-robot interaction. “Consequently, we will also create a robot avatar character which will provide participants suggestions or guidance within the simulation. The results obtained from this research program will hopefully lead to improvements in training and robot design with potentially lifesaving effects in disaster-relief settings and emergency situations,” Mr. Holbrook explained.