What remains to be done with Virtual Reality

  Jaron Lanier , National Tele-immersion Initiative.

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University February 13, 2004

VR by definition presents the ultimate user interface design challenge. Past decades of VR research have yielded a plentitude of useful results, both positive and negative, but much remains to be discovered. The last five years have seen an acceleration of research into collaboration in VR, and in particular the case in which users are represented with a degree of realism to one another. This type of configuration is often called "Tele-immersion." As is to be expected, many questions that have existed for decades can now be re-asked in a more practical way, for instance: When should an already-functioning user interface design be changed so that another person observing it can better understand what is going on? How much effort do people typically want to put into controlling their own appearance in a shared world? Should a user interface designer attempt to influence that user preference? What can be done to reduce the huge space of interaction possibilities so that users retain sufficient focus to accomplish a given task?

Jaron Lanier is a computer scientist, composer, visual artist, and author. Currently, Lanier serves as the Lead Scientist of the National Tele-immersion Initiative, a coalition of research universities studying advanced applications for Internet 2. His current tele-immersion-related research interests include real time, remote, terascale processing, autostereo methods, haptics, and software simulation component integration and reusability. Lanier is probably best known for his work in Virtual Reality. He coined the term ‘Virtual Reality’ and in the early 1980s founded VPL Research, the first company to sell VR products. In the late 1980s he lead the team that developed the first implementations of multi-person virtual worlds using head mounted displays, for both local and wide area networks, as well as the first "avatars", or representations of users within such systems. While at VPL, he co-developed the first implementations of virtual reality applications in surgical simulation, vehicle interior prototyping, virtual sets for television production, and assorted other areas

He tends to collect adjunct appointments, and is currently a visiting faculty member of one sort or another at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth, the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania, the Interactive Telecommunications Program of the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University (where he is a visiting artist), and at the Columbia University Computer Science Department. He is also the Chief Scientist of Eyematic Interfaces, which researches computer vision. He serves on numerous advisory boards, including the Board of Councilors of the University of Southern California, Medical Media Systems (a medical visualization spin-off company associated with Dartmouth University), Microdisplay Corporation (makers of LCOS displays), and NY3D (developers of autostereo displays).


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