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Avatar Ergo Sum – reproducing the self-localization experiment with a full body Avatar

The study of Leggenhager et al (2007) shows that it is possible to disrupt the spatial unity between the self and the body. This is done by using a stereoscopic video representation of one’s own body, which is projected at a position in front of a user, and conflicting visual-somatosensory input. Their setup uses an HMD as display device.

HMDs, however, mostly have a very limited field of view. In our experience, the field of view and the quality of the projection largely influences the perceptual and experiential quality in those environments. Therefore, most of our work is done using a stereoscopic L-Shape-like projection system, projecting an area of 2*3 m both on a wall and the floor. We also have two different HMDs to display stereoscopic virtual worlds. Generally, we use stereoscopic immersive Virtual Reality technology to present Virtual Worlds to users who can freely explore the environment by moving around and using interaction devices.

To provide correct grounds for future experiments on the notion of a self in a virtual environment, we tried to reproduce the Video ergo sum study in our environment. In our study, instead of using a video projection, we use an avatar. This avatar is capable of fully mimicking the user’s body motion, controlled by a few tracking points on the user. We did the study both in an HMD and in our L-shape, a projection based system.

The project started in 2008/2009 as a Virtual Reality project, guided by Steffi Beckhaus and Kristopher J. Blom. After the VR project class, Harald Brinkmann continued to work on the inverse kinematics of the Avatar, which he recently completed. Natalia Manov conducted the formal experiments as part of her diploma thesis.

The project won the 1st prize of EXPO, a yearly exhibition of student projects. The prize went to Natalia Mannov, who presented her diploma thesis at EXPO.
More about the ongoing project in german: Poster

People involved:

Natalia Mannov, Harald Brinkmann, Steffi Beckhaus, Kristopher J. Blom