Abstracts Listed by Author H-Z

Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality:
Changing the Face of Learning

Special Conference Stream within The Experiential Learning in Virtual Worlds Project:
5th Global Meeting

Sunday 10th May – Tuesday 12th May 2015
Dubrovnik, Croatia


Presenters, Key Words and Abstracts H-Z

Listed alphabetically according to presenter surname.

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Physiological Responses to Virtual Spaces: Exploring the Oculus Rift and the Experience of Virtual Simulation Illness
Paul Jerry
Athabasca University, Canada

Key Words:
Virtual Worlds, ELVW, Second Life, Oculus Rift, “virtual reality sickness,” “motion sickness.”

Three-dimensional virtual worlds have been around since the advent of the accessible-to-all Internet―roughly two decades. The experiential promise of virtual worlds has been in their presentation of a computer generated space that mimics the real world―three dimensions and full immersion of experience. Until the advent of reliable and non-platform/game specific viewing technology, the average user of a virtual world had to be content with a flat screen view of their 3-D world. Of the several devices available at the time of this writing, the Oculus Rift appears to have placed the most number of (still-in-development) viewing kits in the hands of developers and some end users who are willing to deal with the quirks of a development kit.

The result has been a minor explosion in the development of immersive experiences, facilitated by the near-total visual immersion generated by the Oculus Rift. This contribution examines a challenging phenomenon that appears to affect a number of users of this technology. Virtual reality sickness, or more simply, motion sickness caused by the discrepant visual and vestibular information presented to the user, is a challenge to the overall success of devices like the Oculus Rift. This paper reviews the literature on the phenomenon of motion sickness in virtual spaces, describes the physiology involved, and examines some of the work being done to address this issue.

Download Draft Conference Paper (pdf)

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A Review of Experiential Learning in Virtual Worlds Conference Themes: What Are We Saying? How Are We Changing?
Paul Jerry
Athabasca University, Canada

Nancy Tavares-Jones
Life Pathways Psychotherapy, Canada

Key Words:
Virtual Worlds, ELVW.

The Experiential Learning in Virtual Worlds conferences have produced a number of excellent works on the use and application of virtual words in education and experiential learning. Emerging from on-going discussions amongst some participants who have attended all of the conferences, this contribution examines the themes and trends of topics submitted for consideration to the first four ELVW conferences.

Based on the official programs for each ELVW event available from the conference website, all listed abstracts were examined using a qualitative theme analysis approach. We discuss the core themes that have emerged and place them in the context of the annual Call for Proposals. These themes are then compared to the ELVW5 Conference Program. We also discuss implications for future exploration of virtual world research and consider possible directions the field may take.

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Tools for Perceptual Learning: Ecological Augmented Reality
Vicente Raja Galian
University of Cincinnati, USA

Key Words:
Augmented reality, perceptual learning, direct learning, ecological psychology, psychological research.

Ecological Augmented Reality (E-AR) devices―designed under neo-Gibsonian principles of ecological psychology―can play a central role in perceptual learning. Perceptual learning, under the ecological lens, is direct insofar as no intermediate processing stages are needed. Direct learning boils down to the way an organism swaps one ambient energy variable for another in information space. The change that takes place as the organism learns allows it to deal better with environmental contingencies. As we shall try to show, E-AR devices permit us reshape information space in meaningful ways. If, according to the theory of direct learning, vector fields in information space code for the type of information that guides learning, E-AR devices can help us enrich the ambient energy variables that the organism, in an augmented reality environment, tunes to.

Direct learning relies upon the calibration and education of attention and of intention towards different and more-functional environmental information. In this way, perceptual learning does not require the preservation of a mental copy of environmental information, but only the improvement in the detection of accurate environmental information for successful interaction. Were we to be able to detect appropriate clues, we would accomplish our goals adequately.

The novelty of our approach resides in the fact that we propose to create and exploit particular ecological information by juxtaposing a virtual layer of information with the “real world” layer. In this way, E-AR provides two potential innovations: on the one hand, by paying attention to the juxtaposition of virtual and real layers, E-AR differs from mainstream augmented reality, which, based exclusively on the overlap of symbols and the “real world,” neglects the embodied-embedded character of cognition. On the other hand, it represents a further step for both direct learning’s research and the learning devices of end users. The inclusion of the real world is a great improvement with respect to virtual reality, and the possibility of customization surpasses the design of physical objects in itself.

Download Draft Conference Paper (pdf)

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Exploring the Pathways of Adaptation an Avatar 3D Animation Procedures and Virtual Reality Arenas in Research of Human Courtship Behaviour and Sexual Reactivity in Psychological Research
Daniel Riha
Faculty of Humanities, Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic

Key Words:
3D animation, sexual response, virtual reality, paraphilia, psychophysiology.

In 2015, National Institute of Mental Health has been established as a new centre of research and leading institution in the Czech Republic in diagnostics, psychiatric patient treatment as well as in psychological research and related disciplines. In the frames of this research institute, there are more than thirty research groups organised in three major research strands. We would like to present a research aim of the inter-disciplinary research group Experimental Sexology that comes with an ambition to blend the research in 3D animation and virtual reality with research group focused on human sexuality research.

We may identify many reasons for exploitation and use of 3D animation and virtual reality in sexuality research. Apart from possibility of (re)experiencing certain situations there are four main advantages:

1) there is indefinite number of stimuli that can be created using animation as opposed to real word and it is much easier to customize them to exact research needs which is especially important when researching paraphilia;

2) the cost and time consumption of stimuli production is much lower in comparison to obtaining similar number of real world stimuli;

3) there is no physical nor psychological harm caused to interacting characters which is extremely priced when use of pre-adolescent or non-human objects is expected, even presentation of activities including partner switching or sadism is possible, and finally;

4) virtual reality allows  us studying  reactions of a person in the situation that we would not be able to put the person in due to ethics, law, and health and safety requirements of psychological research and/or self-report answers about such experience are expected to be of low fidelity.

Therefore to guarantee a control over measurable reactions we decided for a psychophysiological response measures towards the stimuli such as skin galvanic response, eye tracking, electromyogram, electrocardiogram and mainly phalopletysmography for men and vaginal photopletysmograph for women to obtain data about physiological sexual arousal related to stimuli presentation. The aim is to develop set of static as well as interactive virtual sexual stimuli for sexual diagnostic purposes.

The animation sub-group has been exploring so far several production quality levels and various animation procedures in a number of available software. After initial testing, we plan to design VR arenas with a combination of animation software Maxon Cinema 4D, Unity Pro 5 game engine with an output to Oculus Rift or FOVE virtual reality glasses technology, plus Faceshift and iPisoft as a motion capture engine.

In this presentation, we would like to not only present our research plan but as well discuss the factors impacting the pre-requisites and planning of the inter-disciplinary cooperation in an ongoing research, and open some identified problems arising from the initial research set-up.

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Experiencing the Substance of Light and Colour through Virtual and Increased Reality
Zélia Simões
The Research Centre for Architecture, Urbanism and Design (CIAUD), Faculty of Architecture, University of Lisbon, Portugal

Key Words:
Virtual reality, increased reality, multisensory, colour, light.

Light and colour produce multisensory effects in space and interfere with the way  reality is absorbed and interpreted by the body. Throughout history science, technology and education have played an essential role in the development of tools and methodologies in the field of colour, light and human behaviour, allowing for a better quality and positive influence on the experienced environment. Notions of spatiality and plasticity have been exploited in several ways, in particular, by the integration of flexible digital technologies, enabling planning, visualization and simulation of ambiences. However, nowadays, the different flows and the social-cultural mutations have been breaking the relations between space and the individual, their embodiment on it, and the way of realisation.

It is relevant to understand what motivations underlie the production of a given space so as to create new practices of image and representation of light and colour, based on the body and awareness of the entire sensory-perceptual system. In this context, the present paper presents research based on the “O2a factory” showing how creative opportunities of light and colour can be explored, contributing to factors such as identity, coding, legibility, harmony, image as well as the awakening of emotions. The challenge that the research presents is the cross-comparison of experiential patterns of obtained through the factory users, as well as the experts in the fields of design, engineering, architecture and health, with the aim to implement innovative solutions for the achievement of a humanized space.

For this purpose, virtual and augmented reality are fundamental, functioning as a sensory-spatial tool for providing reviews and more comprehensive diagnostics, as well as more informed decisions and better match of spatial requirements, emotional relationships and working comfort.

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Virtual Reality and Psychological Healing: How Virtual Worlds Are Helping Those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Nancy Tavares-Jones
Life Pathways Psychotherapy, Canada

Key Words:
Virtual Worlds, mental health, post-traumatic stress disorder, exposure therapy.

A diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be very overwhelming and one that often requires a lengthy and carefully planned programme of  treatment. Various treatment methods have ranged from pharmaceutical interventions to traditional talk therapy sessions, as well as systematic desensitization (or “exposure”) therapy.  With exposure therapy, the event that contributed to the PTSD is re-created, and the participant along with their counsellor, will utilise that time to reduce PTSD symptoms.  By engaging in a similar event, the participant has the opportunity to develop coping mechanisms enabled through their counselling sessions.

In recent years, there has been increasing interest in the use of virtual reality and 3D immersive virtual worlds to treat individuals suffering from PTSD. Although many of the examples of the use of such technologies to treat PTSD have focused on military-type scenarios, patients are not restricted to the battlefield and virtual worlds have been used to treat people who have been victims of sexual assault and also car crash survivors, among many others. What makes virtual worlds particularly appealing as a medium for intervention is that they allow participants to recreate their experiences in a safe and immersive environment.

This paper examines the development of this medium for the use of reducing the symptoms presented with post-traumatic stress disorder, the medium’s current affordances in therapeutic settings, and the expansion of the medium for future therapeutic treatment.

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Don’t Do the Crime if You Can’t Do the Time … Virtually
Mick Teesdale
HMP Thameside (SERCO), United Kingdom

Key Words:
Virtual worlds, virtual reality, immersion, virtual prison, penal policy, justice, criminology.

More than 10.2 million people are held in penal institutions around the world (Walmsley, 2011). The USA, by far, is the greatest user of prison but the UK, too, has witnessed massive increases in the use of custody over the last 35 years or so―85,083 people in prison at the end of January 2015 (Howard League for Penal Reform, 2015) compared to 42,264 in 1980 (Berman and Dar, 2013). The number of people incarcerated is rising inexorably; not only is the financial cost to governments huge but the social costs are also great both for prisoners themselves and the families they leave behind. Many countries have experimented with the idea of “virtual prison”―home detention, electronic tagging, and smartphone check-in are just some of the policies that have been tried―however, to date they have not been successful in stemming the continuing rise in prison populations worldwide.

But what if a prison sentence could be served in a 3D, immersive, virtual world or some kind of virtual reality facility instead? The idea is not new, at least not in fiction. In Joe Haldeman’s (2013) short story “Complete Sentence,” a man is sentenced to 100 years of solitary confinement to be served in virtual reality overnight. In the “Deep Space Nine” episode Hard Times, Chief O’Brien is sentenced to 20 years in prison which he serves virtually in a matter of hours. In the Dr Who spin-off “K9,” virtual reality is used by a brutal, totalitarian government agency to incarcerate prisoners. The idea of a simulated prison sentence is also explored in The Outer Limits: in the final episode of the second season, Dr Henson invents a “virtual prison” in which offenders experience a lifetime of imprisonment in a matter of minutes.

An improbable vision of the future? Perhaps, but maybe not. As long ago as 2005, criminologist Robert Johnson (2005) envisioned a future when we might immerse offenders in virtual prisons rather than real ones. Philosopher Rebecca Roache agrees and speculates that new technologies may allow us to “make punishment for the worst criminals more severe without resorting to inhumane methods or substantially overhauling the current UK legal system” (2013). In this paper both the reality and rhetoric of virtual prison will be explored with a view to determining whether virtual worlds or virtual reality might be used to tackle the prison population crisis and reduce reoffending in the future.