a research journal for
DMP Summer 2008

Previous Research

The Digital Design lab at UofMN was created to develop technology that can be used in architecture education and to facilitate the process of conceptual design in architecture. This is a project being conducted jointly by faculty and students in Computer Science and Architecture. Dr. Vctoria Interrante and the VR lab are interested in looking at ways to enhance 'presence' in immersive virtual environments(IVEs). That is, how can we enable people to achieve an accurate impression of the space around them in an IVE? Answering this question involves graphics and VR research as well as human subject experiments to understand what factors contrbute to the lack of "presence." Past experiments have mostly revolved around documented distance underestimation in IVEs.

My Project

The lab is currently working on developing technology that enables people to experience a fully tracked, accurately-sized real time avatar representation of themselves in a virtual environment presented via a head mounted display system. My part in this research will examine the effects of embodiment versus disembodiment on a feeling of presence in the IVE. My work to this end will include:

Computer Science

To test stress level in the tasks, we will acquire a heart rate monitor and a Galvanic skin response monitor. I will also need to finesse a way of timing the data with the subject's position in the virtual room. Additionally, I will be adjusting models of the virtual room to create an IVE better suited to our experiments. Also implcit in these tasks is working with the current body of code and learning the Vicon software.

Human Subject Experiments

The human subject experiments will require suiting up a number of human subjects in our Vicon motion capture suits and head mounted display (HMD). We will get a baseline heart rate and Galvanic skin response in a walk across the unaltered model of the room. Then, we will change the model to one with the floor removed, save for a narrow bridge, and ask them to walk across again, monitoring fluctuations in the biofeedback.