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[Colloquium] Virtual Environments: a multi-disciplinary research tool

February 14, 2008

Watch Colloquium:


  • Date: Thursday, February 14, 2008 
  • Time: 11 am — 12:15 pm 
  • Place: ME 218

Betty Mohler
Post-doctoral Researcher
Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics

Abstract: Virtual environments (VEs) are computer-simulations of real or fictional environments with which users can interact. Potential applications of VEs include training, visualization, entertainment, design, rehabilitation, education, and research. The ultimate goal of VEs is to provide the full sensory experience of being in a simulated world. VEs are a very powerful tool to answer scientific research questions from many disciplines. In this talk, four specific projects will be described which use virtual environments to investigate human behavior and also provide suggestions to improve upon the current technology used for VEs. First, an empirical study of space perception within immersive VEs will be presented. Second, results which demonstrate the visual influence on human locomotor behavior will be discussed. Third, a project that analyzes the illusion of self-motion within a large-screen projection VE will be presented. Finally, the implementation of fully articulated full-body avatars within a VE in real time will be described. My research vision is to use virtual environments as a multi-disciplinary tool to provide scientists from various research backgrounds with a rich collection of data on human behavior and interaction. My goal as a scientist has always been to simultaneously investigate human perception while gaining insight from the user in order to improve virtual environments hardware and applications.

Bio: Betty Mohler received her PhD in computer science from the University of Utah in 2007. She is now in her second year of a post-doctoral research position at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen, Germany. Her main research interest is in understanding the human observer towards the aim of improving virtual environment applications. Her approach has always been a multi-disciplinary one and, therefore, she currently collaborates with engineers, neuroscientists and psychologists.