Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Virtual reality helps scientists to see how we see

04.06.2003


Oxford scientists are using the latest virtual reality technology to study how we perceive the world in 3D. The “immersive virtual reality” used by the Virtual Reality Research Group at Oxford University allows subjects to walk around or look up and down while what they see through a headset changes accordingly – they can explore the virtual environment by literally walking around. Meanwhile, the scientists monitor how they are perceiving the dimensions of their ‘Matrix’-style world.



The researchers want to investigate how our visual system converts a 2D image on the retina into a 3D representation of the world – especially when we move around. Dr Andrew Glennerster, who heads the research group, explains: “Normally, as we move around, our eyes jump from object to object about three times a second, yet we are quite unaware of any change. We are also unaware of the swirling patterns of motion that are generated on the retina as we move in a static environment. How does the brain make sense of all this rapidly changing visual information?” By controlling that changing visual information using immersive virtual reality, the researchers can see how the brain reacts to specific visual cues.

In the experiments, visual environments are experienced in real time as the subject, wearing a headset projecting images to each eye, moves around. “The equipment tracks the observer’s head, arm and eye movements and changes the images the eyes see through the headset so as to mimic the changes that would occur if they were exploring a real environment,” explains Dr Glennerster. Previous research into 3D vision has usually been done with the observer’s head clamped in one position.


The virtual reality system can also play tricks on the observer, to study how the brain reacts to controlled variations. In one experiment, the scene gradually expands as the observer walks through it. The researchers have found the observer’s assumption that the room has stayed the same size is so strong that it seems to overcome evidence from motion parallax and binocular disparity (the normal visual cues for shape and size): people can be fooled into thinking two objects are the same size even when one is four times larger than the other.

The project draws together various disciplines, with psychologists and physiologists working in collaboration with engineers in the robotics group at Oxford. The research is in relatively early stages, but it could yield exciting results. “Very few experiments have ever been carried out that test how the brain represents 3D while a person is moving,” says Dr Glennerster. “This forms part of a bigger question troubling neuroscience – how is information from different times and places linked together in the brain in a coherent way?”

Ruth Collier | alfa
Further information:
http://www.physiol.ox.ac.uk

More articles from Interdisciplinary Research:

nachricht New formulas for exploring the age structure of non-linear dynamical systems
23.01.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie

nachricht Fighting myocardial infarction with nanoparticle tandems
04.12.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

All articles from Interdisciplinary Research >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Optical Nanoscope Allows Imaging of Quantum Dots

Physicists have developed a technique based on optical microscopy that can be used to create images of atoms on the nanoscale. In particular, the new method allows the imaging of quantum dots in a semiconductor chip. Together with colleagues from the University of Bochum, scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute reported the findings in the journal Nature Photonics.

Microscopes allow us to see structures that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. However, conventional optical microscopes cannot be used to image...

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rutgers scientists discover 'Legos of life'

23.01.2018 | Life Sciences

Seabed mining could destroy ecosystems

23.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

Transportable laser

23.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>