Virtual Reality
March 8-12 Reno NV USA

Keynote Address

"Growing the Medium of VR"

Mark Bolas

Director INIT Lab

University of Southern California

Tuesday March 11th, 9:30am-10:30


Mark Bolas is a researcher exploring perception, agency, and intelligence. He is an Associate Professor of Interactive Media in the USC Interactive Media Division, USC School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, Director of their Interactive Narrative and Immersive Technologies Lab, and Chairman of Fakespace Labs in Mountain View, California. Bolas majored in Physics and minored in Music at University of California, San Diego. He holds an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University. Bolas’s 1988-89 thesis work “Design and Virtual Environments” was done under the direction of Rolf Faste in Stanford's design program and Scott Fisher at NASA Ames Research Center. It was among the first efforts to map the breadth of virtual reality as a new medium. This effort led Bolas toward a basic model for immersive experience design, concluding that the medium’s power to deeply transport a user is closely tied to finding an appropriate balance between realism and abstraction.

In 1988, Bolas co-founded Fakespace Inc. with Ian McDowall and Eric Lorimer to build instrumentation for research labs to explore virtual reality. This work resulted in the invention of display and interaction tools used by many VR research and development centers around the world, including the Boom (Binocular Omni-Orientation Monitor), the Pinch glove, the RAVE, and VLIB software.

Bolas continues to explore the nature of virtual reality through the design of immersive experiences. His work focuses on creating virtual environments and transducers that fully engage one’s perception and cognition, and create a visceral memory of the experience. His work has been exhibited in many venues including six Emerging Technology exhibits at Siggraph starting in 1991 with Flatlands, which used the illusion of perspective to transform a sculpture into Mondrian's Composition with Line, 1918; the music-driven worlds of Vacuii and StillLife created with Christian Greuel and Niko Bolas; and the invisibly structured Snared Illumination created with Perry Hoberman and Ian McDowall.

He has been a professor at Stanford University and Keio University exploring tangible interfaces, augmented reality, and computational illumination. These projects have explored context sensitive audio interfaces, socially interactive toys, augmented reality, confocal illumination, and mobile phone web logging.

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