A Research Summer at Oculus in Redmond

In summer 2017, I was in a research intern at Facebook/Oculus in Redmond (USA). The internship happened at the very end of my Ph.D. and I was happy to have the opportunity to work in the industry yet. I worked in the perceptual science group at Oculus Research. I was very happy that my research was closely related to my thesis topic as well as to my research activities in the SFB-TRR 161 at the Institute for Visualization and Interactive Systems, University of Stuttgart (Germany). I was responsible for a psychophysical experiment, the experimental design, and the development of the study apparatus. I conducted a user study to investigate the effect of virtual body ownership on tactile perception. The experiment showed interesting effects of virtual hand appearances while integrating vision and haptic feedback in VR. Our paper “Touch with Foreign Hands: The Effect of Virtual Hand Appearance on Visual-Haptic Integration” is accepted and is now be published at SAP’18.

Is there an Uncanny Valley of Virtual Animals? A Quantitative and Qualitative Investigation

Approaching a high degree of realism, android robots, and virtual humans may evoke uncomfortable feelings. Due to technologies that increase the realism of human replicas, this phenomenon, which is known as the uncanny valley, has been frequently highlighted in recent years by researchers from various fields. Although virtual animals play an important role in video games and entertainment, the question whether there is also an uncanny valley for virtual animals has been little investigated. This paper examines whether very realistic virtual pets tend to cause a similar aversion as humanlike characters.

“Where’s Pinky?”: The Effects of a Reduced Number of Fingers in Virtual Reality

The hands of one’s avatar are possibly the most visible aspect when interacting in virtual reality (VR). As video games in VR proliferate, it is important to understand how the appearance of avatar hands influence the user experience. Designers of video games often stylize hands and reduce the number of fingers of game characters. Previous work shows that the appearance of avatar hands has significant effects on the user’s presence—the feeling of ‘being’ and ‘acting’ in VR. However, little is known about the effects of missing fingers of an avatar in VR. In this paper, we present a study (N = 24) that investigated the effect of hand representations by parametrically varying the number of fingers of abstract and realistically rendered hands.

“These are not my hands!”: Effect of Gender on the Perception of Avatar Hands in Virtual Reality

Rendering the user’s body in virtual reality increases immersion and presence – the illusion of ‘being there’. Recent technology enables determining the pose and position of the hands to render them accordingly while interacting within the virtual environment. Virtual reality applications often use realistic male or female hands, mimic robotic hands, or cartoon hands. However, it is unclear how users perceive different hand styles. We conducted a study with 14 male and 14 female participants in virtual reality to investigate the effect of gender on the perception of six different hands.

Starting the exploration of the Uncanny Valley

After the last half year full of trouble and many events, I’m beginning with my doctoral studies at the University of Stuttgart. It is a great honor for me to be in the research group of doctoral students in the collegue “Digital Media” and be part of a scholarship for three years. Subject of my research is the Uncanny Valley and writing a thesis in the next 3-5 years. Unfortunately, I must reduce my freelance work and academic employment at the Stuttgart Media University of course.

A Photorealistic Earth

One of the most complicated shader types in cg are the earth shaders. Although there are only a few 3d spheres with textured surfaces and one sunlight you have to choose unlimited opportunities to design a performant, realistic and detailed scene of the earth, the moon and the sun. There are many different techniques and material properties to design an earth surface model – realistic or abstract. I’ve created a photorealistic earth & moon shader for V-Ray Renderer based on the NASA Blue Marble Earth Maps. You can download this models here.