Immersive Technologies Seminar Series: Design Studio Showcase

Join us on April 12th, between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm, for a symposium to showcase the work of the graduate student researchers involved in the Immersive Technologies (CITech). This symposium is a collaboration between CITech and the Media Studies program, and will be held in the Visualization and Emerging Media Studio (COM 107).

Immersive Technologies (CITech) is a multidisciplinary graduate training program focusing on skills development and collaborative research in design of immersive solutions for various real-world applications from manufacturing to healthcare, to community engagement and education. Researchers to be presented in this symposium include: Bengi Agcal, Amira Ahmed, Mohammad Amin Batouei, Bahman Fakouri, Nasim Hajati, Nelusha Hansamali Nugegoda, Leslie Saca, and Samar Sallam.

See below for a description of each student’s research.

11:00-11:30 Amin Mohammad Batouei is a MASc. student of a mechanical engineering student at UBCO. His academic journey began at the Iran University of Science and Technology with B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering, where he discovered a passion for studying composite materials. His undergraduate thesis focused on practical uses of composite materials by utilizing finite element analysis to research “Reinforcing the corroded bottom plate of a storage tank with composite materials.” His research interest is centred on utilizing machine learning to forecast the degree of cure in a composite material that is subjected to an autoclave by analyzing the video of the procedure. He is a member of the Composites Research Network (CRN), working under the supervision of Dr. Abbas Milani.

VEMS features Canada’s highest-resolution, 3D, VR-ready video wall. It is designed for use cases that are impossible elsewhere, such as immersive experiences without VR equipment, scientific simulations with ultra-high resolution, and graphics workstations for computationally intensive tasks. The studio also offers collaboration tools, including video conferencing and recording. Although the user experience is designed to be intuitive, allowing for ease of use even without specialized training, there is currently a gap in the automation of introducing the space and its capabilities. As a result, an app is being developed with the help of Unity to serve as a tutorial, demonstrating the capabilities of the screen and how users can interact with it. The app will help bridge the gap in introducing users to the advanced features of VEMS and enable them to better utilize the studio’s capabilities for their use cases. This will provide a more seamless and efficient experience for users while maximizing the potential of VEMS.

11:30 – 12:00 Nelusha Nugegoda is a self-motivated student pursuing her MSc in Computer Science on Human-Computer Interaction at The University of British Columbia, Kelowna, BC, Canada. She has extensive experience as a software developer in a reputed Company. She is a current member of the UBCO HCI lab. Her current focus is developing a collaborative application using Augmented Reality to allow professionals to work together on a dedicated task in their remote location.

Nugegoda has collaborated on an application allowing people to play an interactive game to check and practice their garbage-sorting skills by collaborating with their friends and colleagues. When it comes to waste disposal, one of the most important things is to sort the waste into the correct bins to make the recycling process easy and efficient. This immersive game experience allows users to visually remember the correct bins to put the items that they are frequently using in day-to-day life and also the items which were most commonly sorted incorrectly. Users will have the opportunity to collaborate with others to choose the correct bin. They will have three chances to sort all the garbage items incorrectly and complete the task successfully.

12:00 – 12:30 Bengi Agcal is a multimedia artist with computer engineering and psychology backgrounds. She is pursuing her MFA alongside NSERC CREATE in the Immersive Technologies program. Through art and engineering, she aims to engage with the issues of environmental degradation. Her research interests and art practice include speculative fiction, participatory design, 3D rendering, digital sculpting, XR technologies, web computing, immersive technologies, sustainability, climate change, and material recycling.

Virtual reality, as a time-based media and digital technology, can transmit unpredictable and imperceptible sides of changes. Agcal’s project, The 8th continent/Ark Noah’s 2.0, aims to bring together a collaborative art practice in a digital realm to spread and amplify the public’s sentiments and experiences regarding plastic pollution. The experience takes place in an unreal landscape inspired by the Pacific garbage patch, and it replicates the meditative and rewarding process of environmental clean-ups by having the player clear up the space and free the animals victimized by pollution. We hope that this project will enable individuals to share their thoughts and previous exposures to pollution with the general public, thereby opening up a discussion space to drive the necessary changes.

12:30 – 1:00 Amira Ahmed is an Assistant Lecturer at Cairo University, Egypt. Her background lies in Media and Communication studies. She is a second-year Ph.D. student in the Interdisciplinary Studies program, DAHU theme, at UBCO and a Center of Culture and Technology member. She participates in two academic cohorts: Digital Arts and Humanities at the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies and CITECH training program. Her Ph.D. research-creation study investigates the role of immersive and interactive narratives in promoting Global Citizenship Education and countering extremism.

Digital media technologies provide endless possibilities for disseminating and preserving cultural heritage, opening new avenues to creative representations of cultural heritage. This research-creation discusses the design and implementation of an immersive experience where users could navigate the world’s most incredible open-air museum, Luxor city, using a Wireless Game Joystick Controller. Users will look closer at its prominent monuments and learn about ancient Egyptian history and mythology through info spots offering further details on the sites. The primary objective of the project is to examine the effects of immersion and interaction with a high-resolution, 3D, VR-ready video wall (15,360 x 4,320 px) on user experience and experiential learning. Finally, this research aims to advance the understanding of the impact of immersive technologies and interactive 3D multimedia in communicating and promoting digital heritage.

1:00 – 1:30 Bahman Fakouri is a master’s student in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies program, DAHU theme, at UBCO.  He completed his bachelor’s degree in industrial design and holds a master’s degree in illustration. He has worked in the entertainment industry as a 3D modeller, texture artist, and visual development artist. His research interests include data physicalization, storytelling, XR, virtual reality, and data visualization.

Virtual reality can help artists to tell their stories in an immersive environment and illustrate the sophisticated concept of time and place in a way that can be presented to non-scientist audiences. Time After Time (TAT), is a project that will focus on illustrating the impact of a Nechako building on its surroundings before and after its construction on the UBC Okanagan campus. Data required for creating this project is collected from Google Maps, and some Heli shot footage was captured by drone. Using virtual reality, viewers can explore and observe the change process as it happens over time. This will be a unique opportunity for viewers to witness the changes in their environment in a way they may not have been able to experience before.

1:30 – 2:00 Ms. Leslie Saca is a Ph.D. Student in the Electrical Engineering School of Engineering. She is part of the CITech graduate program interested in Extended Reality (XR), User Experience, Wearable Sensors, and Human Technology Interaction. Her background in the Immersive Technologies field started in 2021 while volunteering for a Canadian company, Mantis XR, where she contributed to the technology development efforts and supported their operations to enhance productivity since she found her passion in developing personalized XR experiences based on user feedback collected from wearable sensors embedded in mobile devices.

Immersive technologies create unique experiences by merging the physical world with virtual and simulated reality. Saca’s proposed research aims to develop an interface for users to immerse themselves in an XR experience using their mobile devices. This is achieved using the embedded sensors (gyroscope and accelerometer) in mobile devices to move through and interact with the environment. This interface is a proof-of-concept project that will eventually help pave the way for developing personalized XR experiences displayed on mobile devices.