Yesterday, I attended the Immersive Technologies in Academia and Industry workshop (ITAI 2019) in Cardiff. Throughout the day there were a range of talks from academics, small and medium-sized enterprises and larger companies, as well as funding bodies and research councils. There was a real positive vibe at the event, and it was great talking to people who are passionate about using immersive technologies to help people.
In my last blog post, I explained that I would take along a demonstration of the experiment setup I was using last month. As promised, I can now share some more details about what we were exploring during the study. Keep reading to find out more and for some of my highlights from ITAI 2019.
The setup that can be seen in the image above is very similar to what participants of the study would have seen (minus the poster and promotional content). A webcam pointed at the board and objects, and a computer screen showed what the camera could see. The board was used as an image target for generating 3D augmentations of the objects, like I have shown before.
We wanted to determine what sorts of visual prompts are effective at getting someone to perform different actions. Participants were shown different visualisations on the computer screen and were asked to perform the action they thought was being described. We tested five different actions (pick up, put down, move, open, and close) and four different ways of visualising them in augmented reality. The short video below demonstrates the four visualisations (arrows, a moving object, highlighting objects, and a ghost hand).
Examples of visual prompts
I am now writing up the results of the study into a paper and my supervisors and I will meet next week to determine what are the next steps for the research project. Speaking about my work in a public setting made a welcome change from writing a report, and it was encouraging to hear the enthusiasm from people who came to talk about my project.
ITAI 2019: My Highlights
- The variety
There really was a range of applications and research presented at the conference. One presenter showcased his work using the HoloLens to improve collaboration when design theatre sets, the owner of a digital heritage consultancy shared her research that uses custom 3D models of historic buildings in virtual reality to better understand cultural heritage, and a researcher from Birmingham talked about the work of the Digital Media Technology Lab exploring interaction with virtual objects in mixed reality, to name just a few. These are the ones that stood out for me personally, but you can check out the full program on the ITAI 2019 website.
- The food
Okay, so, maybe that's not the main reason you go to a conference. However, I have mentioned this because, for a free event, the catering was outstanding throughout. My Twitter followers certainly heard about my affinity for Welshcakes:
Some very interesting talks in the first morning session at #ITAI2019. Finishing up the coffee break now. One of the perks of coming to a conference in Wales: Welshcakes! ♥️ pic.twitter.com/IFB1hdlBam
— Thomas Williams (@tjw_94) September 12, 2019
- The opportunities
The ITAI 2019 workshop was designed to foster collaboration between academia and industry, which is what appealed to me about the event in the first place. The talks in the afternoon focused on funding and the benefits and difficulties of collaboration, but it was exciting to hear about the funding available to new projects. A speaker from Immerse UK also shed light on how there needs to be more support for projects outside of London. Immerse UK will be releasing a report describing the sector on a national level later in the year, so keep an eye out if you have a creative project that uses immersive technologies.
- The people
As is usually the case at conferences, it's the people you meet who make the events. I think every person I spoke to was genuinely interested in the potential of immersive technologies for that area of work, even if it was not their usual domain. The organisers did a superb job at bringing together the different stakeholders, and I hope a similar event is run again next year.