At BioMotion Lab, we examine visual perception of 3D scenes and pictures, with a special focus on the opportunities that non-traditional screens and displays provide us, like VR headsets and AR experiences.
One of my main projects consists of development of tools to compare scenes viewed in "normal" 3D and the same scenes viewed as pictures. I have created several tools to create experiments that look at how our brains interpret these scenes differently in the two views. In the real world we get several depth cues from our environment that tell us how far away from us objects are. In virtual reality, we are able to tinker with these cues to produce strange effects that aren't possible in real life.
One of my tools to mess with people's vision in virtual reality.
We are currently investigating how depth perception changes when we subtract certain depth cues like stereo-vision and motion parallax. Motion parallax is when our view of the world changes depending on how we move. We can decrease or increase these effects to produce some interesting (and sometimes nauseating) results. In fact, our lab just submitted a study that looked at how much these cues make us motion sick in virtual reality. I will post more once it is published. This study was led by Siavash Eftekharifar and Anne Thaler.
Another study using these tools puts people inside a virtual "gazeebo". The walls of this gazeebo are very strange, though, since some of the walls warp the view through them, either increasing or decreasing how the secene behind them shows motion parallax and stereo. We look at how people perceive the views through these walls differently. This can help us understand how important the different depth cues are to our perception. This study was led by Xiaoye Wang and Anne Thaler.
We are just beginning a new study examining mental rotation virtual reality. Using the above tools, we present people with with a view of a scene through a window or of a picture and we examine whether it affects how well they mentally rotate objects in memory.