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A Neuro-Ophthalmic Approach to Virtual Reality Research

This project was awarded funding in 2024 as part of the NSF Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER).

Abstract: Virtual reality (VR) encompasses an array of technologies that directly interface with people, either by replacing or enhancing their perception of the surrounding world. Though these technologies were once science fiction, they are now becoming both affordable and widely available, lending themselves to use in everything from entertainment to medical practice. However, current VR technologies are sometimes not well-matched to people's physical and perceptual characteristics; these mismatches can make VR experiences worse, even to the point of being unusable for some people. This project seeks to advance VR research by combining insights from computer science, neuroscience, and ophthalmology to improve the coupling between VR systems and people's perceptual abilities and physical features. Blending these different perspectives will make it possible to find new and innovative ways to improve VR technologies while better understanding human vision.

This project adopts a comprehensive perspective on the relationship between humans and VR technology. Fundamentally, the imagery presented in VR undergoes a series of distinct transformations including rendering, classical optics, physiological optics, sensation, perception, cognition, and resulting actions. Understanding the nuanced contributions of each stage necessitates embracing methods not traditionally associated with VR research, such as integrating ophthalmic eye models, neuroimaging techniques, computer numerical control systems, and others. For instance, leveraging ophthalmic models allows for the creation of virtual scenes customized to individuals' unique eye structure, enabling enhanced spatial fidelity. Additionally, employing neuroimaging in conjunction with spatial judgment tasks will aid in identifying neural distinctions between perceptions of real and virtual scenes. By employing these methods, this project aims to not only advance the development of high-fidelity virtual environments but also unveil novel approaches to studying human spatial vision. The project team will also develop new interdisciplinary course materials for university students and workshops for middle and high school students that seek to attract a wide variety of students to learn about VR, perception, and their intersection.

research/career.txt · Last modified: 2024/03/10 00:59 by jones