Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Virtual reality puts human in rat world: 'Beaming' technology transforms human-animal interaction

Date:
October 31, 2012
Source:
University College London
Summary:
Using cutting-edge virtual reality technology, researchers have "beamed" a person into a rat facility allowing the rat and human to interact with each other on the same scale.

Screenshot of the virtual environment. Three of the four posters are visible in the image as well as the two avatars representing both the participant and the rat.
Credit: Normand et al. Beaming into the Rat World: Enabling Real-Time Interaction between Rat and Human Each at Their Own Scale. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (10): e48331 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0048331

Using cutting-edge virtual reality technology, researchers have 'beamed' a person into a rat facility allowing the rat and human to interact with each other on the same scale.

Published October 31 in PLOS ONE, the research enables the rat to interact with a rat-sized robot controlled by a human participant in a different location. At the same time, the human participant (who is in a virtual environment) interacts with a human-sized avatar that is controlled by the movements of the distant rat. The authors hope the new technology will be used to study animal behaviour in a completely new way.

Computer scientists at UCL and the University of Barcelona have been working on the idea of 'beaming' for some time now, having last year digitally beamed a scientist in Barcelona to London to be interviewed by a journalist.

The researchers define 'beaming' as digitally transporting a representation of yourself to a distant place, where you can interact with the people there as if you were there. This is achieved through a combination of virtual reality and teleoperator systems. The visitor to the remote place (the destination) is represented there ideally by a physical robot.

During the human-animal beaming process the human participants in the system were in a virtual reality lab at the Mundet campus of the University of Barcelona. The rat was located around 12 km away in an animal care facility in Bellvitge.

Tracking technology was used to track the movements of the rat in its arena, and the tracking data was transmitted over the internet to the computers running the virtual reality simulation in Mundet. This tracking information was used to control a virtual human character (an avatar) that represented the rat so that whenever the rat moved its avatar moved too, in a representation of the rat arena but scaled up to human size. Hence the human participant shared the virtual arena, which looked like a room with some pictures on the walls, with a humanoid avatar.

The movements of the human in the virtual reality were also tracked, and the data sent to computers in Bellvitge that controlled a small robot that was located in the rat arena. Whenever the human moved in the virtual space the robot moved in the rat space.

Putting all this together -- the rat interacted with a rat sized robot that represented the remotely located human, and the human interacted with a human sized avatar that represented the remotely located rat.

Professor Mandayam Srinivasan, author of the paper from the UCL Department of Computer Science and MIT, said: "Beaming is a step beyond approaches such as video conferencing which do not give participants the physical sensation of being in the same shared space, and certainly not the physical capability to actually carry out actions in that space."

He added: "The process demonstrated here not only shows the range of our technology, but also provides a new tool for scientists, explorers or others to visit distant and alien places without themselves being placed in any kind of danger, and importantly, to be able to see animal behaviour in a totally new way -- as if it were the behaviour of humans."

Professor Mel Slater, also from the UCL Department of Computer Science and also ICREA, University of Barcelona said: "In the paper we used the idea of representing the rat as if it were a human, but there would be many other possibilities. One idea is that using this technology behavioural scientists could get insights into behaviour by observing it, and taking part in it, through this quite different filter. However, our primary goal was to demonstrate the possibilities inherent in this technology."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University College London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jean-Marie Normand, Maria V. Sanchez-Vives, Christian Waechter, Elias Giannopoulos, Bernhard Grosswindhager, Bernhard Spanlang, Christoph Guger, Gudrun Klinker, Mandayam A. Srinivasan, Mel Slater. Beaming into the Rat World: Enabling Real-Time Interaction between Rat and Human Each at Their Own Scale. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (10): e48331 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0048331

Cite This Page:

University College London. "Virtual reality puts human in rat world: 'Beaming' technology transforms human-animal interaction." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121031214242.htm>.
University College London. (2012, October 31). Virtual reality puts human in rat world: 'Beaming' technology transforms human-animal interaction. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121031214242.htm
University College London. "Virtual reality puts human in rat world: 'Beaming' technology transforms human-animal interaction." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121031214242.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Apple Releases 'Shellshock' Fix Despite Few Affected Users

Apple Releases 'Shellshock' Fix Despite Few Affected Users

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Apple released a security fix for the "Shellshock" vulnerability Monday, though it says only "advanced UNIX users" of OS X need it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do Video Games Trump Brain Training For Cognitive Boosts?

Do Video Games Trump Brain Training For Cognitive Boosts?

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) More and more studies are showing positive benefits to playing video games, but the jury is still out on brain training programs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Facebook Ad Platform Goes Where You Go On The Web

New Facebook Ad Platform Goes Where You Go On The Web

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Called Atlas, the platform allows advertisers to place ads based on Facebook info on sites outside of Facebook. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google Tightens Requirements For Android Manufacturers

Google Tightens Requirements For Android Manufacturers

Newsy (Sep. 27, 2014) Phonemakers who want to use Google’s software in their devices will have to stick to more stringent requirements. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins