University of Texas at San Antonio
Based on recent studies of human computer interaction(HCI), there is a significant lack of diversity in HCI study participants. For example, study participants are typically healthy, young, and from Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic(WEIRD) populations - representative of only 5% of the world’s population. These dimensions of diversity can greatly influence a participant’s fundamental human processes, such as behavior and color perception. Thus, I argue that the current lack of diversity in VR is a major threat to the generalizability of VR research and could be a significant barrier to the success of the VR industry.
Towards addressing a tiny piece of this lack of diversity, my team has spent the last decade studying a minimally tested population in VR - persons with multiple sclerosis. Our intention has always been to make VR more accessible and usable for this population. Results show latency, presence, avatars, and cybersickness in VR affect persons with multiple sclerosis very differently from persons without multiple sclerosis, even when the baselines were indistinguishable. That is, different populations in research often yield very different results. There are too many populations that have not been studied in VR.
Psychology and HCI researchers have still not solved this diversity problem in their respective fields.
- Is diversity in VR research an insurmountable goal?
- What can we do as a research community to address these diversity issues in VR research?
- Why should the VR industry care about diversity?
BIO: Dr. John Quarles is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at The University of Texas at San Antonio. He received his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from The University of Texas at Austin in 2004 and his PhD in Computer Engineering from the University of Florida in 2009. He has conducted research in virtual, mixed, and augmented reality, serious games, and 3D User interfaces. Much of his work has focused on the accessibility of these technologies for persons with disabilities. He has published numerous works in top conferences such as IEEE VR and top journals, such as IEEE TVCG. He has been awarded significant funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, and the National Science Foundation, including the prestigious NSF CAREER award in 2014. He was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2004, resulting a variety of disabilities that have inhibited his use of virtual reality. He has the unique experience of being both a VR researcher and an end user with disabilities, serving to inform his chosen research focus.
Social and Behavioral Research Branch (SBRB)
National Human Genome Research Institute
National Institutes of Health
VR behavioral data tracking: With great power comes great responsibility
Tuesday, Mar. 24, 2020
The automatic capture and analysis of physical movement data available through use of VR technologies will provide researchers, clinicians, and others with unprecedented ability to assess and even predict outcomes ranging from psychological states to disease progression. There are many research projects actively engaged in discovery of the heretofore undiscovered insights that such biometric data may hold. This will undoubtedly provide a powerful tool, allowing us to apply routine VR use to better understand human psychology and behavior and to screen for disease and health threats even before symptoms manifest in other ways. At the same time, it has been repeatedly demonstrated that these data are not anonymous. The unique signatures held within individuals’ behavioral movement data in VR can be traced back to individuals with surprising accuracy. This has led many researchers, practitioners, and advocates to warn of inadequate regulations and protections aimed at preserving privacy for individual VR users. This presentation will address both sides of the VR behavioral data coin.
Dr. Susan Persky is an associate investigator and unit head within the Social and Behavioral Research Branch (SBRB), National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health where she directs the Immersive Virtual Environment Testing Area (IVETA). She earned a B.A. in psychology for Northwestern University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara where she studied at the Research Center for Virtual Environments and Behavior. After conducting postdoctoral research at Columbia University, she came to the SBRB in 2005. Here, she built the IVETA, an immersive VR-based experimental research lab within the SBRB, founded in 2006.
Dr. Persky splits her effort between providing leadership for the IVETA and conducting her programmatic research which investigates the communication of new genomic knowledge about common health conditions like obesity and diabetes. Dr. Persky has published extensively in the areas of virtual reality research applications, health communication, and genomics. She is a member of the World Economic Forum Global Future Council on Virtual and Augmented Reality and has presented her work in venues such as the Smithsonian Institution and at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
Carnegie Mellon University
Jessica Hodgins is a Professor in the Robotics Institute and Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University. From 2008-2016, she founded and ran research labs for Disney, rising to VP of Research and leading the labs in Pittsburgh and Los Angeles. From 2005-2015, she was Associate Director for Faculty in the Robotics Institute, running the promotion and tenure process and creating a mentoring program for pre-tenure faculty. Prior to moving to Carnegie Mellon in 2000, she was an Associate Professor and Assistant Dean in the College of Computing at Georgia Institute of Technology. She received her Ph.D. in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University in 1989. Her research focuses on computer graphics, animation, and robotics with an emphasis on generating and analyzing human motion. She has received a NSF Young Investigator Award, a Packard Fellowship, and a Sloan Fellowship. She was editor-in-chief of ACM Transactions on Graphics from 2000-2002 and ACM SIGGRAPH Papers Chair in 2003. She was an elected director at large on the ACM SIGGRAPH Executive Committee from 2012-2017 and in 2017 she was elected ACM SIGGRAPH President. In 2010, she was awarded the ACM SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement Award and in 2017 she was awarded the Steven Anson Coons Award for Outstanding Creative Contributions to Computer Graphics.