St Pete Beach, Florida, May 19, 2017: Prof Mary Hayhoe, who will this week be honored by the Vision Sciences Society at its annual meeting in St Pete Beach Florida, says the widespread uptake of immersive research using modified VR headsets is set to spark a new wave of innovation in research techniques and treatment methods.
“What we’re seeing with VR is the science emerging with the technology,” she said ahead of the event. “In the past, we have been restricted by the available technology to simple stimulus displays and movements so we have been limited in the kinds of questions we can ask. VR headsets with eye tracking allow us to investigate vision and visually controlled actions in the context of normal behaviour. For example we can study what controls a variety of behaviors, such as attention and locomotion as we move around in realistic environments.”
Prof Hayhoe said VR headsets with eye tracking are now easier than ever for researchers to use, meaning researchers can do experiments that were “previously difficult or impossible”. “Immersive scenarios are controlled, safe but naturalistic testing environments.”
Prof Hayhoe added that beyond research there is excellent potential for applications in areas as diverse as driver training, educational applications, and rehabilitation. Rehab training could be taken over by an avatar coach while yielding valuable data on the patient’s progress. Training teenage drivers could be much more realistic and effective, while understanding 3D structures such as the brain could be much easier with interactive VR.
Prof Hayhoe, whose academic career spans more than four decades, is Professor of Psychology, Center for Perceptual Systems, University of Texas Austin. She will this week be handed the Davida Teller Award by the Vision Sciences Society at its annual meeting at St Pete’s Beach Florida. In announcing the award, VSS noted that “her care and imagination are always evident, providing an admirable standard for young men and women alike”.
She was an early adopter of SMI’s Eye Tracking HMD solutions as an immersive research tool, last year telling a symposium in San Diego of the benefits of taking 2D studies into fully immersive 3D environments for vision and neuroscience research.
This week she will address a symposium at the VSS meeting alongside Prof Gabriel Diaz and Prof Stephen Macknik. Register for the event here.