Alex Kitson





akitson [at]



Alex became a research intern at the iSPACE lab in January 2013, started her Masters in Fall 2014, and artic­u­lated into the PhD pro­gram in Fall 2015. She has a BSc from the University of British Columbia in Cognitive Systems, a mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary pro­gram that com­bines psy­chol­ogy, com­puter sci­ence, phi­los­o­phy, and lin­guis­tics. Her research inter­ests involve using an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary approach to under­stand human per­cep­tion and behav­iour. In par­tic­u­lar, employ­ing tech­nol­ogy as a medium to explore the human psyche, create better human-computer inter­faces, and pro­vide clin­i­cal applications.


Virtual Earthgazing - towards an overview effect in Virtual Reality

How can we use immersive VR to give people pivotal positive experiences without having to send them out into space?   “We went to the Moon as technicians, we returned as humanitarians” reflected Edgar Mitchell after his space flight. This describes the overview effect – a profound awe-inspiring experience of seeing Earth from space resulting in a cognitive shift in worldview, le...

Lean and Elegant Motion Cueing in VR

How do we best design locomotion interfaces for VR that provide "enough" physical motion cues (vestibular/proprioceptive) while still being effective, affordable, compact, and safe? Despite amazing progress in computer graphics and VR displays, most affordable and room-sized VR locomotion interfaces provide only little physical motion cues (e.g., vestibular & proprioceptive cues). To provide...

Lost Spirit

Flight after death: Lost Spirit is an experiential-based Virtual Reality (VR) game whereby the player is transported into the spirit world as they take flight to the afterlife. Experience flight, weightlessness, and wonder. In Lost Spirit, you are stuck in the limbo - a world between the living and the dead. You will drift and fly through different environments, each corresponding to different...

Immersive & Embodied Teleoperation Interfaces

Developing virtual interfaces for embodied tele-operation and locomotion. How can we best design and implement an embodied telepresence system for tele-robotics, so we can safely explore remote, hard-to-reach, or potentially hazardous areas or situations? The goal of the "TeleSpider" project is to design and implement a telepresence system where users can remotely operate a robotic spid...

Motion Seats for VR

Using motion seats for enhancing locomotion and immersion in VR How can we provide a "moving experience" through VR without having to use a full-scale motion platform? Could a compact and relatively low-cost "motion seat" provide some of the same benefits, thus reducing cost, complexity, space & safety requirements? Despite considerable advances in Simulation and Virtual Real...

VR in Architecture Design & Review

How can we use immersive Virtual Reality and embodied locomotion interfaces to to design more  cost- and space-efficient solutions for effective presentation and communication of architectural designs and ideas?  Our overall goal is to iteratively design and evaluate a novel embodied VR system that enables users to quickly, intuitively, and precisely position their virtual viewpoint in 3D space...

Spatial Updating With(out) Physical Motions?

How important are physical motions for effective spatial orientation in VR? Most virtual reality simulators have a  serious flaw: Users tend to get easily lost and disoriented as they navigate. According to the prevailing opinion, this is because physical motion cues are absolutely required for staying oriented while moving. In this study, we investigated how physical motion cues contribute ...

Sonic Cradle

Sonic Cradle suspends the body is a completely dark chamber which encourages experiences comparable to mindfulness meditation.  Users compose peaceful soundscapes in real-time using only their breathing. [vimeo 35764652] Introduction and demo of the Sonic Cradle Sonic Cradle is a relaxing human-computer interaction paradigm designed to foster meditative attentional patterns.  The current p...


Kitson, A., Riecke, B. E., & Vidyarthi, J. (2014). Sonic Cradle: Investigating Meditative Aspects of an Interactive Technology. In NCE-GRAND 2014 Conference (pp. 1–4). Ottawa, Canada. Retrieved from
Kitson, A., Sproll, D., & Riecke, B. E. (2014). Does Movement Experience Influence Navigation Strategy in a Virtual Point-to-Origin Task? Poster presented at the 55th Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society (Psychonomics), Los Angeles, USA.
Kitson, A., Riecke, B. E., & Stepanova, E. R. (2015). Influence of Movement Expertise on a Virtual Point-to- Origin Task (pp. 100–103). Presented at the MOCO’15 – 2nd International Workshop on Movement and Computing, Vancouver, Canada: ACM.
Kitson, A., Riecke, B. E., Hashemian, A. M., & Neustaedter, C. (2015). NaviChair: Evaluating an Embodied Interface Using a Pointing Task to Navigate Virtual Reality. In Proceedings of the 3rd ACM Symposium on Spatial User Interaction (pp. 123–126). Los Angeles, CA, USA: ACM.
Riecke, B. E., Stepanova, E. R., & Kitson, A. (2016, May). New response patterns in point-to-origin tasks depending on stimulus type and response mode. Talk presented at the International Meeting of the Psychonomic Society, Granada, Spain. Retrieved from
Kitson, A., Grechkin, T. Y., Heyde, M. von der, & Riecke, B. E. (2016, May). Effect of Physical Rotations and Gender for Navigation Performance in Virtual Environments. Poster presented at the International Meeting of the Psychonomic Society, Granada, Spain. Retrieved from
Kitson, A., Sproll, D., & Riecke, B. E. (2016). Influence of Ethnicity, Gender and Answering Mode on a Virtual Point- to-Origin Task. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 11(22).
Tong, X., Kitson, A., Salimi, M., Fracchia, F. D., Gromala, D., & Riecke, B. E. (2016). Exploring Embodied Experience of Flying in a Virtual Reality Game with Kinect (pp. 1–2). Presented at the Mixed Reality Art (MRA) Workshop at IEEE VR conference, Greenville, SC, USA: ACM.
Prpa, M., Quesnel, D., Vidyarthi, J., Kitson, A., & Riecke, B. E. (2016, May). Sonic Cradle - Immersive interaction design combining breathing- and neurofeedback to foster focused attention meditation on breath. Poster presented at the 2nd International Conference on Mindfulness, Rome, Italy. Retrieved from
Kruijff, E., Riecke, B. E., Trepkowski, C., & Kitson. (2015). Upper Body Leaning can affect Forward Self-Motion Perception in Virtual Environments (pp. 103–112). Presented at the SUI ’15: Symposium on Spatial User Interaction, Los Angeles, CA, USA: ACM.
Stepanova, E. R., Schiphorst, T., Kitson, A., von der Heyde, M., & Riecke, B. E. (2017). Gathering and Apply Guidelines for TeleSpider Design for Urban Search and Rescue Applications on a Mobile Robot. Presented at the HCI International, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Bayatpour, S., Bernardet, U., DiPaola, S., Kitson, A., & Riecke, B. E. (2015). Exploring Facial Expressions for Human-Computer Interaction: Combining Visual Face Tracking and EMG Data to Control a Flight Simulation Game (pp. 1–7). Presented at the ISEA 21st International Symposium on Electronic Art, Vancouver, Canada.
Kitson, A., Hashemian, A. M., Stepanova, E. R., Kruijff, E., & Riecke, B. E. (2017). Comparing Leaning-Based Motion Cueing Interfaces for Virtual Reality Locomotion (pp. 1–10). Presented at the IEEE Symposium on 3D User Interfaces 3DUI (accepted), Los Angeles, CA, USA.
Kitson, A., Hashemian, A. M., Stepanova, E. R., Kruijff, E., & Riecke, B. E. (2017). Lean Into It: Exploring Leaning-Based Motion Cueing Interfaces for Virtual Reality Movement (pp. 213–214). Presented at the IEEE Virtual Reality (accepted 2-page extended abstract), Los Angeles, CA, USA.
Freiberg, J., Kitson, A., & Riecke, B. E. (2017). Development and Evaluation of a Hands-Free Motion Cueing Interface for Ground-Based Navigation (pp. 271–272). Presented at the IEEE Virtual Reality (accepted 2-page extended abstract).
Kitson, A., Schiphorst, T., & Riecke, B. E. (2017, June). Are You Dreaming? A Phenomenological Study on Understanding Lucid Dreams as a Tool for Introspection. Presented at the CogSci Conference @SFU, Burnaby, BC, Canada.
Kitson, A., Grechkin, T. Y., Heyde, M. von der, & Riecke, B. E. (2017, April). Navigating Virtual Environments – Do Physical Rotations Aid in Orientation? Poster presented at the Second International Workshop on Models and Representations in Spatial Cognition, Tübingen, Germany.