From Oulu to Oculus: A Real Tale About Virtual Reality

27.3.2015 14:15


Infotech Oulu Lecture Series

Speaker: Professor Steven M. LaValle, University of Illinois, USA

Time: Friday 27.3.2015 at 14:15-15:15

Place: University of Oulu, Linnanmaa campus, lecture hall TS128


Using the latest technology, we can safely take control of your most trusted senses, thereby fooling your brain into believing you are in another world.  Virtual reality (VR) has been around for a long time, but due to the recent convergence of sensing, display, and computation technologies, there is an unprecedented opportunity to explore this form of human augmentation with lightweight, low-cost materials and simple software platforms. This is an intense form of human-computer interaction (HCI) that requires re-examining core engineering principles with a direct infusion of perceptual psychology research. Developing systems that optimize classical criteria might lead to overcomplicated solutions that are too slow or costly in practice, and yet could make no perceptible difference to users. Simple adaptation of techniques that were developed for on-screen viewing, such as cinematography and first-person shooter game play, often lead to unpleasent VR experiences due the presentation of unusual stimuli or due to mismatches between the human vestibular system and other senses. With the rapid rise of consumer VR, fundamental research questions are popping up everywhere, slicing across numerous disciplines from engineering to socialogy to film to medicine.  This talk will provide some perspective on where we have been and where we might be going next.


Steve LaValle worked with Oculus VR during 2012-2013, while a visiting professor at the University of Oulu.  He started in September 2012, a few days after the Oculus Kickstarter campaign, and in March 2013,  moved to California to the become the head scientist up until the $2 billion Facebook acquisition in March 2014.  He developed perceptually tuned head tracking methods based on IMUs and computer vision.  He also led a team of perceptual psychologists to provide principled approaches to virtual reality system calibration and the design of comfortable user experiences.  In addition to his continuing work at Oculus, he is also Professor of Computer Science at the University of Illinois, where he joined in 2001.  He has worked in robotics for over 20 years and is known for his introduction of the Rapidly exploring Random Tree (RRT) algorithm of motion planning and his 2006 book, Planning Algorithms.


Last updated: 24.3.2015