GuestXR shares its early work through a series of online seminars about VR

The GuestXR project has organised, in collaboration with the journal Frontiers in Virtual Reality, a series of five online seminars entitled “Striving for Social Harmony in XR”. These webinars ran every week or two, from May 25th to July 6th focusing on GuestXR partners work on virtual meetings (‘collaborative virtual environments’), the utility of agent-based models for social modelling, what can we learn from the neuroscience of interpersonal interaction, the role of deep learning for virtual humans, and reflections on the ethical aspects.

In the first session, celebrated on May 25th 2022, Mel Slater, Investigator and Co-director of the Event Lab from the University of Barcelona, presented several studies on how to make immersive virtual meetings realise the goals of the participants, covering a review of virtual meetings (‘collaborative virtual environments’) and discussed the affordances and problems of meeting in virtual reality.

The second webinar was hosted on the 8th of June by Beatrice de Gelder, Professor and Director of the Brain and Emotion Laboratory from the University of Maastricht. De Gelder focused their presentation on the neuroscience behind interpersonal interaction, which can feed the state-of-the-art advances in the development of VR technologies.

Darian Meacham, Associate Professor from the University of Maastricht, delivered the third talk alongside with PhD Candidate Dani Shanley. Their presentation focused on ethics considerations on VR environments, including topics such as accessibility and potential harassment when using Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technologies. Other issues mentioned touched on data privacy, architecture, governance, and behavioural change.

The fourth presentation was held by Andrzej Nowak, Professor from the University of Warsaw on social modelling in the VR world and how can we learn behaviour from other people by observing their actions.

And lastly, Doron Friedman, Professor and Head of the Advanced Reality Lab from Reichman University, wrapped up the “Striving for Social Harmony in XR” series with the webinar “Deep neural networks for virtual humans in XR: Beyond photorealism”. In this presentation he presented different techniques to create, train and converse fluidly with virtual humans in VR.