March 25-29, Alexandria, Virginia, USA

IEEE Virtual Reality Conference

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Calendar of Events
Keynote Speaker


IEEE Computer Sciety

Naval Research Lab




IEEE Virtual Reality Conference 2006 Tutorial Schedule 

Tutorial 1: Virtual Reality Technology – An Introduction

08:00 - 17:00, Saturday, 25th March
This tutorial is intended for those new to the VR/VE field. It will present topics related to Input Devices (such as and Gesture Interfaces), Output Devices (such as Haptic Displays and auto-stereoscopic displays), Computing Architectures for VR, Modeling of virtual objects, VR Programming issues, Human Factors in VR (user performance evaluations and cybersickness) and VR Applications. The tutorial is based on the textbook published by the Instructor and class slides from his courses at Rutgers University. (

Topics to be addressed:
  • Input Devices (Trackers, Navigation, and Gesture Interfaces);
  • Output Devices (Graphics, Three-Dimensional Sound, and Haptic Displays);
  • Computing Architectures for VR (graphics and haptics pipelines, PC and
  • Workstation-based architectures, parallel and distributed systems);
  • Modeling (geometric, kinematics, physical, behavior, model management);
  • VR Programming (Scene graph, WTK, Java 3D, GHOST, PeopleShop)
  • Human Factors in VR (multimodal evaluations, cybersickness);
  • VR Applications (medical, education/entertainment, military, manufacturing,robotics, visualization
Who should attend: The tutorial in intended for those new to the field of VR/VE, although others may benefit as well.
Level of Expertise: None.

Grigore Burdea, Rutgers University


Tutorial 2: Conducting Human-Subject Experiments with Virtual and Augmented Reality

08:00 - 17:00, Saturday 25th March
As virtual and augmented reality hardware and software have grown more mature over the past decade, the focus of the field is shifting away from the basic engineering technology, and towards the science and applications of VR and AR techniques. Increasingly, virtual and augmented reality researchers are conducting human-subject experiments, both to understand the way humans perceive, manipulate, and cognate with VR and AR information, and to quantify the
utility of VR and AR in different application contexts.

This tutorial is for researchers and engineers, working in the field of VR and AR, who wish to conduct a human-subject experiment. It will cover (1) the basic principles of experimental design
and analysis, with an emphasis on human-subject experiments in VR and AR (Swan); (2) a “journalistic approach” to measuring human performance that organizes the activity around questions such as “Who? What? When? Where? How? and Why?” (Ellis); and (3) the basic principals and techniques of psychophysics, along with examples of how they have successfully examined human perceptual performance in virtual environments (Adelstein).

The tutorial will consist of three complementary topics, taught by each of the three instructors:

(1) Basic Experimental Design and Analysis (Swan): This session will introduce the basics of experimental design and analysis. Especially in regards to experimental analysis, it will focus on the fundamental logic behind topics such as hypothesis testing and analysis of variance, while avoiding the complexities that come from considering individual statistical tests.

Topics include:
  • generating empirically testable hypotheses
  • experimental validity
  • standard statistical designs
  • independent and dependent variables
  • experimental design and counterbalancing
  • statistical tests
  • gathering data
  • describing data
  • inferential statistics
  • hypothesis testing
  • power and effect size analysis
  • analysis of variance
  • reporting statistical results
(2) Measuring Human Performance in Virtual Environments (Ellis): This session will discuss general aspects of measuring human performance, with a larger focus on the overall enterprise. The instructor has organized the session around a “journalistic approach” to human performance studies, which centers on asking classic journalistic questions such as “Who? When? Where? What? How? and Why?”. The presenter will explain how this approach has proven fruitful in his own human performance studies of virtual environments.

Topics include:
  • the purpose of human performance assessment
  • a journalistic approach: the who, why, how, where, and what of human performance assessment
  • elements of human factors analysis
  • a classification of measurement scales
  • illustrative case studies involving nominal, ordinal, and interval data collection in virtual environments
  • heuristics for behavioral data analysis
(3) Psychophysics for Virtual Environments (Adelstein): This session will introduce and motivate the field of psychophysics for virtual environments. It will describe psychophysics generally, and cover the most fundamental psychophysical methods (method of adjustment, method of constant stimuli, and method of limits), as well as basic analysis techniques for these methods. It will involve several motivating case studies involving the instructor’s own use of psychophysical methods to examine latency discrimination in virtual environments.
Topics include:
  • what is psychophysics and what is it good for?
  • why do we need psychophysics in virtual environments?
  • classical psychophysical methods: the method of adjustment, the method of constant stimuli, the method of limits
  • detection theory
  • psychometric functions
  • illustrative case studies involving latency discrimination in virtual environments

To illustrate the discussed principals and techniques, the course will include illustrative case studies of actual human-subject experiments conducted with VR and AR systems.

Who should attend: Researchers and engineers, working in the fields of VR and AR, who wish to conduct a human-subject experiment.
Level of expertise: All levels. The basic principals of experimental design and analysis discussed early in the day will set the stage for the more advanced topics that follow.

J. Edward Swan II, Mississippi State University
Stephen R. Ellis, NASA Ames Research Center
Bernard D. Adelstein, NSAS Ames Research Center


Tutorial 3: Virtual Reality Technology for Mental Health and Rehabilitation:  Applications and Issues

08:00 - 17:00, Sunday 26th March

After an early period of inflated expectations and limited delivery, Virtual Reality (VR) technology has emerged as a viable tool for assessment, therapy and rehabilitation applications.  Virtual reality integrates real-time computer graphics, body tracking devices, visual displays, and other sensory input devices to immerse a participant in a computer-generated virtual environment (VE) that changes in a natural way with head and body motion. The capacity of VR technology to create controllable, dynamic, interactive three-dimensional stimulus environments, within which behavioral responding can be recorded and measured, offers clinical assessment and intervention options that are not available using traditional methods. Much like an aircraft simulator serves to test and train piloting ability under a variety of controlled conditions, VEs have been developed to present simulations that target human cognitive and functional processes that are relevant for assessment, therapy and rehabilitative purposes. As well, VR technology provides assets that will continue to advance the scientific study of normal psychological, cognitive and motor processes.

VR applications are now being developed and tested which focus on component cognitive processes including: attention, executive functions, memory, and spatial abilities. Additionally, a wide variety of VEs have been developed to address psychological conditions (e.g., anxiety disorders, PTSD, pain control) and motor impairments (i.e. reaching, grasping and gait). Functional VE training scenarios have also been designed to test and teach instrumental activities of daily living such as street-crossing, automobile driving, meal preparation, supermarket shopping, use of public transportation, and wheelchair navigation. These initiatives have formed a foundation of work that provides support for the feasibility and potential value of further development of VR applications for clinical and research questions.

This talk will briefly present an introductory overview of VR technology and the rationale for its use in assessment and rehabilitation. This will be followed by a detailing of the assets that are available with the use of VR in assessment, therapy and rehabilitation. Embedded within this critical review of the field, will be exemplars of VR applications that have added value and those that illustrate the crime of technological overkill! Throughout the presentation, participants will be given the latest information on what the technology involves, how it has been applied with clinical (and some non-clinical) populations, professional issues involved in its use, and what is in store for the next millenium! Specific details on the presenters' ongoing research using VR for assessment, therapy and rehabilitation along with hands-on demonstrations will be available to the attendees. As the impact of information technology continues to accelerate across the spectrum of human functioning, the thoughtful, rational, ethical, and professional application of these new tools will be stressed throughout the presentation. It is our belief that an informed awareness of the issues involved in this technology's use is required to maximize the value of these emerging tools for clinical and research applications.

Presentation Objectives:

You will learn about:
  1. About the relevant issues involved in the design, development, implementation, and evaluation of VR for use in mental health/rehabilitation applications.
  2. About the specific rationales and advantages for use of VR for psychological, cognitive and motor function applications.
  3. How virtual reality has been used as an adjunct to cognitive-behavioral therapy in the treatment of phobias, eating disorders, addictive behaviors, acute pain and  PTSD
  4. How virtual reality has been used in the study, assessment, and rehabilitation of cognitive/functional processes in neuropsychology (ADHD, traumatic brain injury, and age-related neurodegenerative disorders).
  5. About the presenters' research program using VR with both clinical and non-clinical populations.
  6. About the basic issues for decision making regarding the use of these information technology tools in a professional and ethical manner.
  7. About what is in store for the future of this technology and what needs to be advanced to make VR more accessible and usable.

Who should attend: Anyone interested in learning about the technology and how it has been used in the mental health and rehabilitation domains.
Level of Expertise: Beginning to intermediate skill level and a basic understanding of computing-However, no programming knowledge is necessary.

Albert "Skip" Rizzo, University of Southern California
Brenda K. Wiederhold, Interactive Media Institute