Online Seminar Series
Fostering inclusion and social interaction in XR

17th May - 22nd June 2023

Inclusion, accessibility, and social interaction in virtual and augmented reality environments is key to ensure the success of the deployment of this technology at a public scale. Although immersive environments offer fantastic opportunities for creativity, learning, and social interaction, there is a risk of abusive behavior and exclusion of people with special needs.

The GuestXR European project is embracing artificial intelligence, together with neuroscience and social psychology research to increase harmony and improve the participants’ experience in shared 3D virtual or augmented reality spaces.

This seminar series, organized by Frontiers in Virtual Reality Journal and partners from the GuestXR project, will start with a session on the features of an innovative XR technology for meeting with participants around the world.

The online series will follow on with sessions on the research and advancements on haptic technologies and 3D audio techniques to support social interactions and inclusion in XR environments. Finally, we will delve into advanced multisensory features to improve accessibility to VR environments by publics with special needs. 

Scheduled seminars

A shared XR system with full body avatars and AI agent integration for enhanced inclusivity

In this webinar, we will discuss an innovative software system allowing remote participants from around the globe to meet in shared 3D virtual or augmented reality spaces. Participants are represented by full body avatars closely resembling their real appearances, enabling natural interaction through body movements and voice. Our system incorporates an interface for AI and simulation systems to observe meetings and intervene by altering the environment, modifying avatar characteristics (age, gender, ethnicity, etc.), swap their bodies and controlling humanoid agents.

Bernhard Spanlang, Co-founder and CTO, Virtual Bodyworks

Bernhard holds a PhD in computer science from University College London, specializing in virtual environments imaging and vision. With over 20 years of experience in designing Virtual Reality systems for scientific studies, hospitals, prisons, and businesses, his work has led to significant scientific breakthroughs in the understanding of body perception. As a research scientist at the University of Barcelona, Bernhard has contributed to over 60 publications. At Virtual Bodyworks, he leads a team of software developers, creating innovative tools for accelerating XR content creation and developing products that offer new perspectives and understanding to participants through immersive embodiment experiences.

Binaural 3D sound in VR environments​

Sound is an integral part of human interaction. Our ability to hear and produce a wide range of sounds allows us to communicate with each other with a remarkable precision. In VR, manipulating sounds that reach users’ ears offers a variety of ways to enhance the social interaction. This webinar provides a tutorial on audio processing in Unity, dedicated for researchers in the audio domain interested in using VR for testing their research ideas and prototyping perceptual experiments.  We will introduce basic techniques for incorporating 3D audio in VR environments, explore several methods for modifying audio signals, and discuss a few use cases that we have found interesting for our research.

Joanna Luberadzka, Researcher at the Multimedia Technology Unit, Eurecat

Joanna Luberadzka is an early-stage researcher interested in human hearing and audio technology. She obtained a PhD in Hearing Technology and Audiology from the University of Oldenburg (Germany). She has also carried out industrial research stays at Jacoti (Spain) and Meta (USA). She recently joined Eurecat where she is working on topics at the intersection of immersive audio, machine learning and hearing technology.

Studying haptics as a way to support social interactions in XR

June 15th, 2023

16:00h CEST

Haptic technologies have been extensively studied over the past decades to integrate tactile and force sensations into virtual reality setups. Haptic interfaces were first considered as an effective way to augment 3D interactions, primarily to allow touching and “feeling” virtual objects. In this webinar, we will consider a different and timely use of haptic technologies as a means to support social interactions in collaborative virtual environments. We will describe our latest results from the GuestXR project and show how haptic techniques can be used to effectively foster empathy or increase co-presence, leadership and trust, in virtual meetings as envisaged in future metaverse applications.


Anatole Lécuyer, Inria Research Director, Inria centre at Rennes University

Anatole Lécuyer is Research Director and head of Hybrid team at Inria, in Rennes, France. He has been leading a research activity on “virtual Reality” for the past 25 years. He was involved in numerous international collaborations such as with European “GuestXR” or “NIW” projects. He initiated and still leads the OpenViBE open-source software, and co-founded the Mensia startup company. He authored more than 200 scientific publications and 15 patents. He served notably as program chair of IEEE VR conference and associate editor of IEEE TVCG journal. He obtained the Inria-French Academy of Sciences “Young Researcher Prize” in 2013, and was inducted in the IEEE Virtual Reality Academy in 2022.

Use of multisensory features to improve accessibility to VR environments

June 22nd, 2023

16:00h CEST

This webinar will explore how multisensory Integration (specifically the combination of visual, auditory, and tactile cues) can be employed for increasing social interaction and accessibility in extended reality environments. Learn about how visual and spatial information can be sonified and conveyed through auditory properties and language to aid the visually impaired, how audiotactile cues can help the hearing impaired, and more.

Amber Maimon, Post Doctoral Researcher, The Baruch Ivcher Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Technology, Reichman University

Iddo Wald, Lab CTO & Head of Design, The Baruch Ivcher Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Technology, Reichman University

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Reichman University