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Oct 13, 2006

Immersive Mixed Reality Environments

Via Networked Performance

Saturday 21 October 2006, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam: 11.00 - 12.30: Bioinformatics dept., Faculty building, 15th floor 12.30 - 18.00: Sophia Children's Hospital, Cinema 3rd floor.

Test_Lab:/ Immersive Mixed Reality Environments/ is the product of a unique collaboration between the Erasmus Medical Centre and V2_, Institute for the Unstable Media with the aim of opening the dialogue between scientists and artists that apply Virtual Reality in their research and art practice. The event consists of demonstrations by Virtual Reality artists and scientists providing hands-on experiences with Immersive Mixed Reality Environments, and presentations by renowned international speakers presenting the latest in Virtual Reality in science and art. See below for the program details, a description of the projects that will be demonstrated, and the invited speakers that will present their work in the seminar.

Test_Lab is a bi-monthly public event hosted by V2_ that provides an informal setting to demonstrate, test, present, and/or discuss artistic research and development (aRt&D).

The event is free of charge, but registration is required before the 19th of October. For further information and registration please contact Remco Beeskow at press@v2.nl (tel: +31 (0)10 206 72 72) or Fred Balvert at f.balvert[at]erasmusmc.nl (tel: +31(0)6 41431721). Also visit www.v2.nl and www.erasmusmc.nl

Oct 08, 2006

Flow in collaborative virtual environments

Factors influencing flow of object focussed collaboration in collaborative virtual environments

Virtual Reality Journal, Springer London, Volume 10, Number 2 / October, 2006, Pages 119-133.

Authors: David Roberts, Ilona Helda, Oliver Otto and Robin Wolff

Creativity is believed to be helped by an uncluttered state of mind known as flow and as the trend grows towards less immersive displays to produce an uncluttered workplace, we ask the question “Does immersion matter to the flow of distributed group work?”. The aim of this work is to study the impact of level of immersion on workflow and presence during object focussed distributed group work, and to discuss the relevance of these and other factors to supporting flow and creativity.

Oct 07, 2006

Spatial updating in virtual reality

Spatial updating in virtual reality: the sufficiency of visual information.

Psychol Res. 2006 Sep 23;

Authors: Riecke BE, Cunningham DW, Bülthoff HH

Robust and effortless spatial orientation critically relies on "automatic and obligatory spatial updating", a largely automatized and reflex-like process that transforms our mental egocentric representation of the immediate surroundings during ego-motions. A rapid pointing paradigm was used to assess automatic/obligatory spatial updating after visually displayed upright rotations with or without concomitant physical rotations using a motion platform. Visual stimuli displaying a natural, subject-known scene proved sufficient for enabling automatic and obligatory spatial updating, irrespective of concurrent physical motions. This challenges the prevailing notion that visual cues alone are insufficient for enabling such spatial updating of rotations, and that vestibular/proprioceptive cues are both required and sufficient. Displaying optic flow devoid of landmarks during the motion and pointing phase was insufficient for enabling automatic spatial updating, but could not be entirely ignored either. Interestingly, additional physical motion cues hardly improved performance, and were insufficient for affording automatic spatial updating. The results are discussed in the context of the mental transformation hypothesis and the sensorimotor interference hypothesis, which associates difficulties in imagined perspective switches to interference between the sensorimotor and cognitive (to-be-imagined) perspective.

Oct 05, 2006

VR for teaching airway management in trauma

New equipment and techniques for airway management in trauma.

Curr Opin Anaesthesiol. 2001 Apr;14(2):197-209

Authors: Smith CE, Dejoy SJ

A patent, unobstructed airway is fundamental in the care of the trauma patient, and is most often obtained by placing a cuffed tube in the trachea. The presence of shock, respiratory distress, a full stomach, maxillofacial trauma, neck hematoma, laryngeal disruption, cervical spine instability, and head injury all combine to increase tracheal intubation difficulty in the trauma patient. Complications resulting from intubation difficulties include brain injury, aspiration, trauma to the airway, and death. The use of devices such as the gum-elastic bougie, McCoy laryngoscope, flexible and rigid fiberscopes, intubating laryngeal mask, light wand, and techniques such as rapid-sequence intubation, manual in-line axial stabilization, retrograde intubation, and cricothyroidotomy, enhance the ability to obtain a definitive airway safely. The management of the failed airway includes calling for assistance, optimal two-person bag-mask ventilation, and the use of the laryngeal mask airway, Combitube, or surgical airway. The simulation of airway management using realistic simulator tools (e.g. full-scale simulators, virtual reality airway simulators) is a promising modality for teaching physicians and advanced life support personnel emergency airway management skills.

Sep 27, 2006

Frequency of stuttering during virtual reality job interviews

Frequency of stuttering during challenging and supportive virtual reality job interviews.

J Fluency Disord. 2006 Sep 23;

Authors: Brundage SB, Graap K, Gibbons KF, Ferrer M, Brooks J

This paper seeks to demonstrate the possibility of manipulating the frequency of stuttering using virtual reality environments (VREs). If stuttering manifests itself in VREs similarly to the way it manifests itself in real world interactions, then VREs can provide a controlled, safe, and confidential method for treatment practice and generalization. Though many researchers and clinicians recognize the need for generalization activities in the treatment of stuttering, achieving generalization in a clinical setting poses challenges to client confidentiality, safety, and the efficient use of a professionals' time. Virtual reality (VR) technology may allow professionals the opportunity to enhance and assess treatment generalization while protecting the safety and confidentiality of their clients. In this study, we developed a VR job interview environment which allowed experimental control over communication style and gender of interviewers. In this first trial, persons who stutter (PWS) experienced both challenging and supportive VR job interview conditions. The percentage of stuttered syllables was calculated for both interviews for each participant. Self-reported ratings of communication apprehension and confidence were also obtained, and were not significantly correlated with stuttering severity. Results indicated that interviewer communication style affected the amount of stuttering produced by participants, with more stuttering observed during challenging virtual interviews. Additionally, the amount of stuttering observed during the VR job interviews was significantly, positively correlated with the amount of stuttering observed during an interview with the investigator prior to VR exposure. Participants' subjective reports of the VR experience indicate reactions similar to those they report experiencing in the real world. Possible implications for the use of VR in the assessment and treatment of stuttering are discussed. Educational objectives: After reading this article, the reader will be able to-(1) list some of the challenges to treatment generalization; (2) describe how virtual reality technology can assist in alleviating some of these challenges; (3) describe how the frequency of stuttering varies across two different virtual environments.

Sep 26, 2006

Gametrack: a new device for virtual rehabilitation?

Via VR Geek

The Gametrak is a real 3DOF tracker, which can be used with both hands. According to the company, the system is able to calculate the exact position in 3D space, with a spatial resolution of 1 millimetre anywhere within a 3m cube around the unit, with no processor overhead or time delay (that seems quite unrealistic to me, but if they write it...)

Strings attached to the user's hands allows the system to measure the distance and angles from the base item on the ground; these information are used to calculate the x,y, and z coordinates of the hands.

Given these features, the Gametrack system could be effectively applied in post-stroke rehabilitation of the upper limb and in other computer-based programs for neurorehabilitation. In fact, the Gametrack can be easily programmed and adapted to existing applications. Further, the cost of the device is very cheap (about 30€) if compared to other virtual rehabilitation hardware.    

If any Positive Technology reader wishes to try the system for rehabilitation purposes, we would be very interested in knowing the results  

See The Original Gametrak Promotional Video


Sep 20, 2006

VR therapy vs (in Vivo) therapy in the treatment of fear of flying

Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy and Standard (in Vivo) Exposure Therapy in the Treatment of Fear of Flying.

Behav Ther. 2006 Mar;37(1):80-90

Authors: Rothbaum BO, Anderson P, Zimand E, Hodges L, Lang D, Wilson J

This controlled clinical trial tested virtual reality exposure (VRE) therapy for the fear of flying (FOF), a relatively new and innovative way to do exposure therapy, and compared it to standard (in vivo) exposure therapy (SE) and a wait list (WL) control with a 6- and 12-month follow-up. Eighty-three participants with FOF were randomly assigned to VRE, SE, or WL. Seventy-five participants, 25 per group, completed the study. Twenty-three WL participants completed randomly assigned treatment following the waiting period. Treatment consisted of 4 sessions of anxiety management training followed either by exposure to a virtual airplane (VRE) or an actual airplane at the airport (SE) conducted over 6 weeks. Results indicate that VRE was superior to WL on all measures, including willingness to fly on the posttreatment flight (76% for VRE and SE; 20% for WL). VRE and SE were essentially equivalent on standardized questionnaires, willingness to fly, anxiety ratings during the flight, self-ratings of improvement, and patient satisfaction with treatment. Follow-up assessments at 6 and 12 months indicated that treatment gains were maintained, with more than 70% of respondents from both groups reporting continued flying at follow-up. Based on these findings, the use of VRE in the treatment of FOF was supported in this controlled study, suggesting that experiences in the virtual world can change experiences in the real world.

Sep 19, 2006

Motion sickness susceptibility

Motion sickness susceptibility.

Auton Neurosci. 2006 Aug 22;

Authors: Golding JF

Motion sickness can be caused by a variety of motion environments (e.g., cars, boats, planes, tilting trains, funfair rides, space, virtual reality) and given a sufficiently provocative motion stimulus almost anyone with a functioning vestibular system can be made motion sick. Current hypotheses of the 'Why?' of motion sickness are still under investigation, the two most important being 'toxin detector' and the 'vestibular-cardiovascular reflex'. By contrast, the 'How?' of motion sickness is better understood in terms of mechanisms (e.g., 'sensory conflict' or similar) and stimulus properties (e.g., acceleration, frequency, duration, visual-vestibular time-lag). Factors governing motion sickness susceptibility may be divided broadly into two groups: (i) those related to the stimulus (motion type and provocative property of stimulus); and (ii) those related to the individual person (habituation or sensitisation, individual differences, protective behaviours, administration of anti-motion sickness drugs). The aim of this paper is to review some of the more important factors governing motion sickness susceptibility, with an emphasis on the personal rather than physical stimulus factors.

Using VR to assess neglect

Pseudoneglect in back space.

Brain Cogn. 2006 Aug 23;

Authors: Cocchini G, Watling R, Sala SD, Jansari A

Successful interaction with the environment depends upon our ability to retain and update visuo-spatial information of both front and back egocentric space. Several studies have observed that healthy people tend to show a displacement of the egocentric frame of reference towards the left. However representation of space behind us (back space) has never been systematically investigated in healthy people. In this study, by means of a novel visual imagery task performed within a virtual reality environment, we found that representation of right back space is perceived as smaller than the left. These results suggest that there is a selective compression or distortion for mental representation related to the right space behind us.

Sep 18, 2006

VR experiment casts light on anxiety

Context Conditioning and Behavioral Avoidance in a Virtual Reality Environment: Effect of Predictability.

Biol Psychiatry. 2006 Aug 31;

Authors: Grillon C, Baas JM, Cornwell B, Johnson L

BACKGROUND: Sustained anxiety can be modeled using context conditioning, which can be studied in a virtual reality environment. Unpredictable stressors increase context conditioning in animals. This study examined context conditioning to predictable and unpredictable shocks in humans using behavioral avoidance, potentiated startle, and subjective reports of anxiety. METHODS: Subjects were guided through three virtual rooms (no-shock, predictable, unpredictable contexts). Eight-sec duration colored lights served as conditioned stimuli (CS). During acquisition, no shock was administered in the no-shock context. Shocks were paired with the CS in the predictable context and were administered randomly in the unpredictable context. No shock was administered during extinction. Startle stimuli were delivered during CS and between CS to assess cued and context conditioning, respectively. To assess avoidance, subjects freely navigated into two of the three contexts to retrieve money. RESULTS: Startle between CS was potentiated in the unpredictable context compared to the two other contexts. Following acquisition, subjects showed a strong preference for the no-shock context and avoidance of the unpredictable context. CONCLUSIONS: Consistent with animal data, context conditioning is increased by unpredictability. These data support virtual reality as a tool to extend research on physiological and behavioral signs of fear and anxiety in humans.

Sep 17, 2006

VR & fear of flying: Cognitive behavior therapy for fear of flying: sustainability of treatment gains after september 11

Cognitive behavior therapy for fear of flying: sustainability of treatment gains after september 11.

Behav Ther. 2006 Mar;37(1):91-7

Authors: Anderson P, Jacobs CH, Lindner GK, Edwards S, Zimand E, Hodges L, Rothbaum BO

This study examines the long-term efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for fear of flying (FOF) after a catastrophic fear-relevant event, the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Participants (N = 115) were randomly assigned to and completed treatment for FOF using 8 sessions of either virtual reality exposure therapy (VRE) or standard exposure therapy (SE) prior to September 11, 2001. Individuals were reassessed in June, 2002, an average of 2.3 years after treatment, with a response rate of 48% (n = 55). Analyses were run on the original data and, using multiple imputation procedures, on imputed data for the full sample. Individuals maintained or improved upon gains made in treatment as measured by standardized FOF questionnaires and by number of flights taken. There were no differences between VRE and SE. Thus, results suggest that individuals previously treated for FOF with cognitive-behavioral therapy can maintain treatment gains in the face of a catastrophic fear-relevant event, even years after treatment is completed.

Cognitive behavior therapy for fear of flying: sustainability of treatment gains after september 11

Cognitive behavior therapy for fear of flying: sustainability of treatment gains after september 11.

Behav Ther. 2006 Mar;37(1):91-7

Authors: Anderson P, Jacobs CH, Lindner GK, Edwards S, Zimand E, Hodges L, Rothbaum BO

This study examines the long-term efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for fear of flying (FOF) after a catastrophic fear-relevant event, the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Participants (N = 115) were randomly assigned to and completed treatment for FOF using 8 sessions of either virtual reality exposure therapy (VRE) or standard exposure therapy (SE) prior to September 11, 2001. Individuals were reassessed in June, 2002, an average of 2.3 years after treatment, with a response rate of 48% (n = 55). Analyses were run on the original data and, using multiple imputation procedures, on imputed data for the full sample. Individuals maintained or improved upon gains made in treatment as measured by standardized FOF questionnaires and by number of flights taken. There were no differences between VRE and SE. Thus, results suggest that individuals previously treated for FOF with cognitive-behavioral therapy can maintain treatment gains in the face of a catastrophic fear-relevant event, even years after treatment is completed.

Using VR as an assessment tool in schizofrenia

A Virtual Reality Apartment as a Measure of Medication Management Skills in Patients With Schizophrenia: A Pilot Study.

Schizophr Bull. 2006 Sep 6;

Authors: Kurtz MM, Baker E, Pearlson GD, Astur RS

Performance on a novel, virtual reality (VR) assessment of medication management skills, the Virtual Reality Apartment Medication Management Assessment (VRAMMA), was investigated in 25 patients with schizophrenia and 18 matched healthy controls. The VRAMMA is a virtual 4-room apartment consisting of a living room with an interactive clock and TV, a bedroom, a kitchen, and a bathroom with an interactive medicine cabinet. After an exploratory phase, participants were given a mock prescription regimen to be taken 15 minutes later from pill bottles located in the medicine cabinet in the bathroom of the virtual environment. The VRAMMA was administered with a validated measure of medication management skills, several neurocognitive tests, and a symptom scale. Results revealed that (1) schizophrenic patients made significantly more quantitative errors in the number of pills taken, were less accurate at taking the prescribed medications at the designated time, and checked the interactive clock less frequently than healthy controls; (2) in patients with schizophrenia, there was significant agreement in classification of adherence vs nonadherence between a validated measure of medication management skills and the VRAMMA; and (3) in patients with schizophrenia, years of education and a measure of verbal learning and memory were linked to quantitative errors on the VRAMMA, while positive symptoms, specifically delusional symptoms, were inversely linked to distance traveled within the VRAMMA. This is the first study, to our knowledge, to provide evidence for the utility of VR technology in the assessment of instrumental role functioning in patients with schizophrenia.

Transformation of flow in rehabilitation

Transformation of flow in rehabilitation: the role of advanced communication technologies.

Behav Res Methods. 2006 May;38(2):237-44

Authors: Riva G, Castelnuovo G, Mantovani F

Authentic rehabilitation requires the active participation of patients and their involvement with opportunities for action and development. Within this framework, in this article we outline the possibility of using two emerging computing and communication technologies-ambient intelligence (AmI) and virtual reality (VR)--for a new breed of rehabilitative and clinical applications based on a strategy defined as transformation of flow. Transformation of flow is a person's ability to exploit an optimal (flow) experience to identify and use new and unexpected psychological resources as sources of involvement. We identify the feeling of presence--the feeling of being in a world that exists outside oneself--as the theoretical link between the technology and rehabilitation. AmI and VR are used to trigger broad empowerment processes induced by a strong sense of presence, leading to greater agency and control over one's actions and environment.

Aug 17, 2006

The Application of VR to the Treatment of PTSD Following the WTC Attack

The Application of Virtual Reality to the Treatment of PTSD Following the WTC Attack.

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2006 Jul;1071:500-1

Authors: Difede J, Cukor J, Patt I, Giosan C, Hoffman H

Recent research suggests that virtual reality (VR) enhanced exposure therapy may enhance the efficacy of treatment through increasing patient engagement in the exposure. This study evaluated the use of VR in the treatment of PTSD following the WTC attack of September 11, 2001. Individuals in a 14 session VR-enhanced treatment (n=9) were compared to a waitlist (WL) control group (n=8). ANOVA showed a significant interaction of time by group (p<.01) with a large effect size of 1.53. The VR group showed significantly greater post-treatment decline in CAPS scores compared to the WL. Our preliminary data suggests that VR is an effective tool for enhancing exposure therapy for both civilians and disaster workers who suffer from PTSD.

Using VR for Teaching Social Understanding to Autistic Adolescents

Using Virtual Environments for Teaching Social Understanding to 6 Adolescents with Autistic Spectrum Disorders.

J Autism Dev Disord. 2006 Aug 10;

Authors: Mitchell P, Parsons S, Leonard A

Six teenagers with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) experienced a Virtual Environment (VE) of a café. They also watched three sets of videos of real cafés and buses and judged where they would sit and explained why. Half of the participants received their VE experience between the first and second sets of videos, and half experienced it between the second and third. Ten naïve raters independently coded participants' judgments and reasoning. In direct relation to the timing of VE use, there were several instances of significant improvement in judgments and explanations about where to sit, both in a video of a café and a bus. The results demonstrate the potential of Virtual Reality for teaching social skills.

Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy: 150-Degree Screen to Desktop PC

Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy: 150-Degree Screen to Desktop PC.

Cyberpsychol Behav. 2006 Aug;9(4):480-9

Authors: Tichon J, Banks J

Virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) developed using immersive or semi-immersive virtual environments present a usability problem for practitioners. To meet practitioner requirements for lower cost and portability VRET programs must often be ported onto desktop environments such as the personal computer (PC). However, success of VRET has been shown to be linked to presence, and the environment's ability to evoke the same reactions and emotions as a real experience. It is generally accepted that high-end virtual environments (VEs) are more immersive than desktop PCs, but level of immersion does not always predict level of presence. This paper reports on the impact on presence of porting a therapeutic VR application for Schizophrenia from the initial research environment of a semi-immersive curved screen to PC. Presence in these two environments is measured both introspectively and across a number of causal factors thought to underlie the experience of presence. Results show that the VR exposure program successfully made users feel they were "present" in both platforms. While the desktop PC achieved higher scores on presence across causal factors participants reported they felt more present in the curved screen environment. While comparison of the two groups was statistically significant for the PQ but not for the IPQ, subjective reports of experiences in the environments should be considered in future research as the success of VRET relies heavily on the emotional response of patients to the therapeutic program.

Aug 08, 2006

The Travels of Mariko Horo

Re-blogged from Networked Performance 

The Travels of Mariko Horo by Tamiko Thiel: Sometime between the 12th and the 22nd centuries Mariko HMrM, Mariko the Wanderer, journeys westward from Japan in search of the Buddhist Paradise floating in the Western Seas. She does find Paradise, but finds also a chilling, darker side to the West, an island where lost souls are held in an eternal Limbo. She encapsulates her impressions of the places she visits in a series of 3D virtual worlds and invites you to see the West through her eyes.

The Travels of Mariko is an interactive 3D virtual reality installation. The image is generated in real time on a fast gaming PC and projected on a large 9 x 12 screen to produce an immersive experience. Users move their viewpoint through the virtual environment with a joystick or similar navigational input device. Mariko is a fictitious character Thiel invented to incorporate the viewpoint for the project - users will never actually see Mariko, except perhaps in a mirror. In essence they will be Mariko, seeing the exotic and mysterious Occident through her eyes and experiences.


The virtual environment is sensitive to their presence, changing around them as a result of their movements and actions: An empty church fills with saints who vanish into the heavens. A basilica transports the user directly into the Western Cosmos, where angels sing the praises of the Goddess of Compassion. A pavilion takes users deep into the underwater realm of the Heavenly King. A plain wooden chapel leads into a Limbo of constant torment.

Music for Mariko Horo is embedded in the piece itself, localized to specific places within the 3D world. The composer Ping Jin, Professor of Music at SUNY/New Paltz, studied music both in his native China and in the USA. Ping describes the music as "creating a sonic dimension for Mariko's meditation on the mythic West. Created from both sampled and computer generated sounds, there are fusions and juxtapositions of Eastern and Western sounds to enhance the scene and mood of each section."

World premiere:

July 29 - November 26, 2006: "Edge Conditions" show, part of the Pacific Rim Theme of ISEA2006 Symposium/ZeroOne San Jose Festival at the San Jose Museum of Art, USA.

Aug 04, 2006

Using Simulation and Virtual Reality Technology to Assess Continuing Nurse Competency

Education and Practice Collaboration: Using Simulation and Virtual Reality Technology to Assess Continuing Nurse Competency in the Long-Term Acute Care Setting.

J Nurses Staff Dev. 2006 July/August;22(4):163-169

Authors: Landry M, Oberleitner MG, Landry H, Borazjani JG

Assessment of continuing competence of staff is a challenge for many healthcare organizations. There is no clear consensus as to what constitutes continuing competence or how to measure that competence. Methods for assessing continued competence of nurses are varied. A novel method, simulation and virtual reality technology, was used to assess the competency of nurses employed in long-term acute care hospitals in Louisiana. This article will describe the project which was the result of a collaborative effort between a large healthcare organization and a school of nursing.

Jul 31, 2006

Immersive Medical Telepresence conference

Phoenix, Arizona, 6-7 September 2006



From the conference website 

The Health Sciences, perhaps more than any other discipline, is dependent of images / video and the analysis of these images to be successful. This is true in biomedical research, health education and of course in clinical care. These images are increasingly digital and improving in resolution by orders of magnitude. This simultaneously allows more flexibility with the analysis of the image and much better analysis. The data resources are logically growing exponentially there is a growing need to share and compare images.

The ability to effectively use and share these resources is often a local issue with individual solutions being developed. There are exceptions and when they are discovered they are often treated as significant success stories. For example, the SUMMIT Project at Stanford University has created a significant set of stereoscopic and haptically enabled Digital Anatomy resources. These resources and the expertise at Stanford will be used across the nation and now internationally to teach anatomy courses.

As the health sciences continue to become more specialized and the educational resources become more difficult to locate, advanced networking that allows secure, reliable access to expertise and high quality resources is critical. The ability to create virtual organizations and collaborate with and among students, professors, researchers, and clinicians irrespective of location is of increasing value.

At the same time, large-capacity research networks (e.g., Internet2 and peered networks, GLORIAD) and high-quality video applications (e.g., DV-over-IP, developed by the WIDE Project and stereoscopic HD video-over-IP realized by GIST are making such virtual collaboration technically possible and financially affordable. However, the absence of (human) networking opportunities has hampered the development of sustainable testbeds and slowed the rate of innovation.

This workshop will focus on our ability to effectively use and manipulate image / video resources irrespective of their location. It will also showcase many emerging technologies relevant to the medical field. Most importantly, it will provide an opportunity for those in the medical community to learn alongside experts in the area of video technologies and large capacity networking about the challenges ahead and to begin a discussion about how those challenges can be met.