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.
A shared XR system with full body avatars and AI agent integration for enhanced inclusivity
May 17th, 2023
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
June 1st, 2023
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
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.