Physical Manifestations of Virtual Humans, and Potential Applications to Education

November 17, 2010

Virtual humans have been around for many years, offering a controlled human dimension to applications such as training, education, and entertainment. The manifestation of virtual humans in a real space typically involves a 2D flat panel display, sometimes with stereo head tracked imagery. In these situations, the 2D display effectively serves as a portal to the virtual human’s world, through which all communication and perception must pass. From the perspective of the real space, the virtual humans are in some sense “trapped” in the 2D display.

But what if instead, avatars could manifest themselves in physical form, with human shape, appearance, behavior, and sound? In other words, what if virtual humans could break free from their 2D displays, joining us in the real world as physically-present approximations of real humans? In this talk I will discuss this idea including some existing applications and potential perceptual issues. With Prof. Jeff Greene I will also speculate about how the technology might be used in education in the future.

Speakers: Prof Greg Welch with Prof Jeff Greene
Time: 4:00 p.m.
Place: 206 Peabody Hall

About the speakers

About Greg Welch: Gregory F. Welch is a Research Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He received a B.S. with highest distinction from Purdue University in 1986 in Electrical Engineering Technology. He completed his Ph.D. in 1996 under the direction of Dr. Gary Bishop at UNC-Chapel Hill. Previously he has worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Northrop-Grumman's Defense Systems Division. His research interests include human motion tracking systems, 3D telepresence, projector-based graphics, computer vision and view synthesis, and medical applications of computers. He has co-authored more than 50 peer-reviewed publications in these areas, and is a co-inventor on multiple patents. He has served on numerous program committees, co-chaired workshops, serves on the editorial board of International Journal of Virtual Reality, and is an Associate Editor for the journal Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments. He maintains an internationally recognized web site dedicated to the Kalman filter. He is a member of the IEEE Computer Society and ACM.

About Jeff Greene: He needs no introduction!