Seminar Series - Reconsidering the Importance of Realism in Virtual Reality

Speaker: Dr. Doug Bowman
Director, Center for Human-Computer Interaction
Computer Science, Virginia Tech
Date: Friday, September 7, 2012
Time: 11:15am-12:30pm
Location: 2150 Torgersen

It is often implied or assumed that the ultimate goal of VR (and other mixed reality) systems is the perfect reproduction of reality. Many people believe that graphics, audio, haptics, physics, and interaction should all be as indistinguishable from the real world as possible. In other words, the Star Trek Holodeck is seen as the gold standard of VR systems.The word "reality" is even part of the name of our field! However, increasing realism can have a steep cost, and evidence for the benefits of higher levels of realism is often lacking. In this talk, I want to take a step back to evaluate how, when, and why we should be seeking for high levels of realism. I will review a decade of research in my group focusing on understanding the effects of various types of realism in VR systems, and will draw some potentially surprising conclusions about where our research efforts should be focused and how much realism is enough.