Monday, December 10, 2007

Breaking News – Canada funds an Unusual Laboratory for Rehabilitation

The Laboratory for the Exploration of Media Immersion for Rehabilitation (EMIR Laboratory), the first laboratory of its kind in the world, aims to develop and evaluate immersive experiences based on enhanced body awareness, with a view to supporting applications in rehab in particular. The laboratory will complement existing laboratories at Laval University that offer immersive experiences (the Laboratoire de muséologie et d’ingénierie culturelle or LAMIC, the Laboratoire des nouvelles technologies de l’image, du son et de la scène or LANTISS, and the Laboratoire de réalité géospatiale augmenté en réseau et déplacements or REGARD and the virtual reality cave at the Centre interdisciplinaire de recherche en réadaptation et intégration sociale or CIRRIS), but the EMIR Laboratory is destined to be integrated within a clinical hospital environment (the Institut de réadaptation en déficience physique de Québec or IRDPQ) during its third year of development.

The EMIR laboratory will consist of a variety of equipment, of a total value of about 300000$, including specialized devices to record and deliver high quality and spatialized sound, a 360 degree visual surround (including an interactive floor and video cameras), tactile interfaces for capturing touch and gesture, a brain-computer interface so that the environment can be controlled to some extent by thought patterns (of special interest for quadraplegics), and the ability to track movements outside the lab and to represent these within the laboratory environment. The immersive experiences that will be designed include, therefore, a multisensory combination of artistic, pedagogique and scientific elements structured in space, which will serve to support the development of experiences that challenge and transform the embodied identity of participants undergoing rehabilitation.

Partners in the project include the IRDPQ, LANTISS, LAMIC and CIRRIS, and MercanStream Technologies Inc.