SIAT Showcase: iSpace Multi-modal Virtual Reality Simulator & Sympathetic Guitar

Our new iSpace multi-modal VR sim­u­la­tor was first pub­licly demon­strated at the SIAT show­case on 5. Feb 2011, together with the Sympathetic Guitar project by Jay Vidyarthi which pro­vides the live accom­pa­ni­ment for the video below that we shot we shot after the offi­cial part was over we started play­ing with our new setup.

This was the first public demo of new iSpace (Riecke) Lab Virtual Reality Simulator at the School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT), Simon Fraser University, Canada, as pre­sented at the SIAT show­case on February 5, 2011. See for details or con­tact me at…

The goal of the iSpace VR sim­u­la­tor is to pro­vide a flex­i­ble research appa­ra­tus to study human spa­tial per­cep­tion, cog­ni­tion, and behav­iour in repro­ducible, clearly defined and con­trol­lable exper­i­men­tal con­di­tions. We are using Virtual Reality to pro­vide a multi-modal, fairly nat­u­ral­is­tic and immer­sive stim­uli in a closed action-perception loop.

The Sympathetic Guitar walks the line between art and sci­ence, being both a man­i­fes­ta­tion of its creator’s cul­tural lin­eage and the sub­ject of an exper­i­ment on social inter­ac­tions with tech­nol­ogy. The guitarist’s hand posi­tion and per­for­mance dynam­ics are used to mod­u­late a deep dig­i­tal sitar drone as real-time accom­pa­ni­ment. The project rep­re­sents an explo­ration of whether a human-computer inter­face can be designed specif­i­cally to gen­er­ate an engag­ing socially-immersive rela­tion­ship with its user. See for details.


The iSpace pro­gram is cen­tered on inves­ti­gat­ing what con­sti­tutes effec­tive, robust, and intu­itive human spa­tial ori­en­ta­tion and behav­iour. This fun­da­men­tal knowl­edge will be applied to design novel, more effec­tive human-computer inter­faces and inter­ac­tion par­a­digms that enable sim­i­lar processes in computer-mediated envi­ron­ments like vir­tual real­ity (VR) and multi-media.

To tackle this ambi­tious agenda, we had to design and build our own flex­i­ble research appa­ra­tus, which con­sists of a motion chair mounted on top of a “cir­cu­lar tread­mill” (see illustrations/video), which allows us to phys­i­cally rotate par­tic­i­pants and/or elicit com­pelling self-rotation illu­sions (induced by bio­me­chan­i­cal cues from step­ping along with the rotat­ing turntable). To design and build such a setup (which is com­mer­cially unavail­able), we started a highly fruit­ful col­lab­o­ra­tion with sev­eral pro­fes­sors in Mechatronics and employed three Mechatronics 3rd year under­grad­u­ate stu­dents as part of a co-op place­ment and later as RAs. Together, we started to iter­a­tively design, build, and eval­u­ate a world­wide unique multi-modal VR lab for perceptual/behavioural exper­i­ments (see pic­tures below). The most chal­leng­ing part, the con­struc­tion of the cir­cu­lar treadmill-based motion sim­u­la­tor was recently suc­cess­fully com­pleted by the three under­grad­u­ates and was the center piece of the show­case. This included the design and 3D mod­el­ing of the mechan­i­cal com­po­nents in solid­works includ­ing sim­u­la­tion and stress test­ing as well as the selec­tion and inte­gra­tion of the elec­tron­ics, motors, con­trol, gears, etc. and basic inter­fac­ing to a con­trol com­puter. Together with my grad­u­ate stu­dents, we are cur­rently work­ing on the 3D visual, 3D audi­tory, and subsonic/vibrational sim­u­la­tion, part of which is show­cased in the above video/pictures.


SIAT: all iSpacers


Supervision: Professors Gary Wang & Siamak Arzanpour

3rd year under­grad­u­ates: Etienne Naugle, Adam Hoyle & Anton Brosas

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