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VRDC Speaker Q&A: Aldis Sipolins of IBM Research

VRDC Speaker Q&A: Aldis Sipolins of IBM Research

June 29, 2017 | By Emma Kidwell

June 29, 2017 | By Emma Kidwell
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More: VR, Programming, Design, VRDC

Head of Virtual Reality and Game Design at IBM Research Aldis Sipolins will be at VRDC 2017 to present his talk Why Virtual Reality and Machine Learning are Good for Science, which will give us a first look at cutting-edge research using machine learning to enhance memory in VR.

VRDC: Tell us about yourself and your work in VR/AR

I received a Ph.D. in Visual Cognition and Human Performance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2015, specializing in neuroenhancement. During my time at UIUC I founded a VR research lab, where I developed cognitive tests using the Unity3D video game engine. Prior to joining IBM, I was co-founder and CEO of a VR startup in San Francisco developing brain training videogames for the Samsung GearVR headset. My current work at IBM Research uses machine learning and sensors to predict and enhance cognition and performance in VR.

Without spoiling it too much, tell us what you’ll be talking about at VRDC

Neuroscience, machine learning, presence, game design, robots, eye tracking, UX, nerf guns, sensors, drones, 3d printing.

What excites you most about VR/AR?

All of a sudden, we have this whole new realm of ecologically valid cognitive neuroscience research. We’re still figuring out how it works and what it means, but it’s a game-changing goldmine for human research.

What do you think is the biggest challenge to realizing VR/AR’s potential?

If I had to pick one, I’d say solving the locomotion problem.

What advice would you give to a developer as they plan on making their next VR experience?

Test early and test often with people who have never tried your game and never tried VR before. Also, if your experience makes people motion sick it’s your fault and you have a responsibility to tell them in advance.

What is the benefit of having computer vision systems embedded into HMDs in the future? How will that change the experience of VR for a user?

(assuming you mean pass-through cameras, like on the front of the Vive) On a practical level it’ll be easier to spend time in VR if we don’t need to lift a headset off every time we want to take a sip of coffee. It’ll help with safety, as well (detecting changes in the environment).

Register for VRDC Fall 2017 to hear more about machine learning from Aldis, and join other creators of amazing, immersive experiences at the premier industry event. Gamasutra, VRDC, and GDC are sibling organizations under parent UBM Americas.

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