The 2015 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation

ICRA 2015 WORKSHOP: Challenges in Virtual Reality

Date: 26 May 2015, Time: 8:30am - 5:30pm
Location: Room 604, Washington State Convention Center
Organizers: Steve LaValle (UIUC), Ming Lin (UNC), and Paul MacNeilage (LMU Munich)

We gratefully acknowledge partial support provided by Oculus/Facebook.

Thanks everyone for making this a fascinating and successful gathering!


What is all the hype about? Virtual reality (VR) has been around for decades, but the systems were never compelling enough to match the hype, excitement, and hopes that a generation of people had for this technology to change our everyday lives. It is different now, really! Thanks to recent advances in technology, high-fidelity, low-cost, portable VR headsets are widely available. For a few hundred dollars, they offer immersive experiences that are as good or better than previously obtained by older setups costing tens of thousands or even millions of dollars. Significant attention was generated by Oculus VR, when it was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for $2 billion, with other large companies investing in VR, including Google, Microsoft, Sony, Qualcomm, Valve, HTC. Samsung. The race is on to transform our lives on this exciting new medium or platform.

Due to their comfort with sensing, filtering, and control in the physical world, roboticists are well positioned to make crucial advances in this rising field. What should be we doing? Through telepresence, we can offer a new generation of virtual travel, telesurgery, and distributed social interaction systems. We can also contribute to systems that track motions in the physical world and bring representations of moving bodies into the VR space. To make contributions, it will become important for us to understand VR issues in the larger context, which extends well outside of robotics.

The goal of this workshop on virtual reality is to bring together experts from three areas: 1) the virtual reality industry, where current technological limitations and their possible near-term solutions are well understood; 2) perceptual psychology, where scientists strive to characterize interactions between vision, auditory, and vestibular systems under the unusual stimuli provided by this technology; 3) roboticists who want to build virtual reality systems and experiences. This unusual mix of experts should help develop an appreciation among attendees of the complex, low-level interactions between the hardware and the human body. An improved understanding could lead researchers to pursue new directions and interdisciplinary collaborations in this exciting and growing area of research.


Times Speakers Topic Slides
Robotics Perspective
8:30-8:40Steve LaValle, UIUCIntroduction, overview[pdf]
8:40-9:10Ming Lin, UNC Chapel HillReal-time Multimodal Interaction for VR
9:10-9:40Allison Okamura, StanfordAugmented Reality with Haptics for Medical Applications[pdf]
9:40-10:10Juan D. Tardos, U. ZaragozaReal-time visual SLAM for precise user tracking in Virtual Reality
Industry Perspective
10:30-11:00Richard Yao, Oculus/FacebookPerception is a Lazy Scientist
11:00-11:30David Kasik, BoeingThe Visualization Business in Boeing
11:30-12:00Abe Bachrach, SkydioUnlocking the potential of drones[pdf]
Human Physiology/Psychology Perspective
1:30-2:00Marty Banks, UC BerkeleyThe importance of focus cues in 3D displays
2:00-2:30Dana Ballard, UT AustinWhy do we look where we look?
2:30-3:00Paul MacNeilage, LMU MunichDeconstructing self-motion perception for VR
3:30-4:00John Stowers, IMP ViennaReverse Engineering Animal Vision with Virtual Reality and Genetics
VR Demo and Feedback Session
4:00-5:30Socialize, discuss, have fun!

Special VR Demo and Feedback Session:

For the last part of the workshop, we invite participants to bring VR demos into the room to stimulate discussions, brainstorm, and get feedback from VR experts and fellow enthusiasts. If offering a demo is not feasible, then showing videos will alternatively suffice. "Official" demos/presentations: In addition, all participants are welcome to "unofficially" present demos and discuss their projects with experts from the workshop. With a little luck, we can make some new friends and separate into interesting, diverse groups for dinner and drinks after the workshop.