Friday, May 16, 2014

EMIR Laboratory Now Functional

It has taken longer to get the lab completed and operational than expected, but this has finally been achieved. In conjunction with the efforts to complete the installation of the laboratory, we have developed five demos that showcase the potential of the laboratory to support diverse projects in rehabilitation and disability studies. These are as follows :

  1. Fragment de vie (Fragmented Life) : Demo that provides different viewpoints of disability by offering different soundtracks for the same film delivered to wireless headphones (collaboration with CinéScène Inc.)
  2. Vertiges (Vertigo) : Demo that provides an experience of vertigo by simulating walking across a narrow pathway suspended above Quebec City (collaboration with CinéScène Inc.)
  3. Deuxième peau (Second Skin) : Demo that provides an observer a vicarious experience of disability. The movements of a person in a motion capture suit are transfered in real time to an avatar in a virtual kitchen, but attempts to interact with the kitchen and manipulate objects are restricted because the avatar experiences various types of motor impairment (collaboration with CinéScène Inc.)
  4. Viscères (Visceres) : Demonstration of a body-based interface for virtual navigation of spaces (Google Street Map)
  5. Meta-laboratoire (Meta-laboratory) : Demonstration of the use of the lab to support immersive experiments, in this case, a study of the effects of heminegligence on spatial orientation and judgement in the far field (collaboration with CinéScène Inc. and Dr. Julien Voisin)
In addition to the demos, a growing number of research projects are taking place that harness the possibilities that the lab offers. I have subdivided these projects into six categories : Bimodal Environments, Trimodal Environments, Movement-based Environments, Visceral Environments, Virtual Environments and Geographic Environments.

  1. Bimodal Environments : Immersive environments that engage two major sense modalities

    Hemispheres (Hémisphères)
    Experimental study in planning stages of far-field effects of heminegligence (collaboration with Dr. Julien Voisin)
    Co-breather (Co-respirateur)
    Design and validation study underway to build and test four co-breathers for possible clinical applications. Co-breathers provide auditory-tactile immersion (collaboration with Ms. M.L. Bourbeau and C. Légaré)
  2. Trimodal Environments : Immersive environments that engage three major sense modalities

    Living Wall (Mur vivant)
    Project in preparation, aimed at developing a playful immersive installation for waiting areas in clinics for children and adolescents that offers an engaging and absorbing environment that provides motor training opportunities (dexterity exercises) for individuals with fine motor impairments (collaboration with Dr. Ernesto Morales; projected Ph.D. thesis of Walid Baccari)
    Pro(x)thèse (Pro(x)thesis)
    Project underway in design phase, aimed at developing a clinical tool for allowing people with disability to explore sexual/sensual imagery and providing the means to track image choices over time. The tool involves the use of a touch-sensitive smart garment and an immersive visual environment, and we are commissioning photos by a professional photographer (collaboration with Dr. Ernesto Morales and Dr Frédérique Courtois).
    Auric Space (Espace aurique)
    Current in the planning stage, this project seeks to provide a training environment for people who have difficulties locating sounds in their immediate environment. We will use a bimodal environment (visual and auditory and haptic) to provide cues to and test for sound location (projected Ph.D. thesis of Afnen Arfaoui)
  3. Movement-based Environments : Immersive environments that explore movement modalities

    Third Skin (Troisième peau)
    Project in planning stages that seeks to extend the work initiated in the project "Second Skin" to provide a variety of vicarious experiences of disability and ability
    Choreographic maps (Cartes chorégraphiques)
    Planned project that seeks to study how dance may contribute to emerging ideas about how children play (collaboration with Dr. Cora McLaren)
  4. Visceral Environments : Immersive environments that explore actions rooted in the engagement of the body's visceral organs

    Visceres II (Viscères)
    Project in planning stages that aims to test the hypothesis that viscerally learned spaces are more fully understood and remembered than spaces learned by more traditional means
    OrienT (OrienT)
    Planned project that seeks to use a smart garment to help people who get easily disoriented to resituate themselves in their environments (collaboration with Dr. Claude Vincent)
  5. Virtual Environments : Immersive virtual environments

    Virtuarch (Virtuarch)
    Project in design development stage that seeks to provide adolescents with disabilities who feel isolated and have a tendency towards depression, access to an environment and situation that engages them in the creative design of architectural spaces (collaboration with Dr. Ernesto Morales)
  6. Geographic Environments : Immersive environments that encourage an appropriation of geographic space

    Multimodal Online Mapping Interface (Interface multimodal pour la cartographie en ligne)
    Project in planning stage that seeks to design and implement an on-line multimodal interface for a mapping application that draws on cognitive design principles (collaboration with Dr. Mir Mostafavi; projected Ph.D. thesis of Bilel Saadani)
These different projects seek to serve a variety of populations of people with impairments, including the deaf, the deafblind, the blind, those with low vision, people with either gross or fine motor impairments, people with attention deficits and people with intellectual impairments. Furthermore, different projects have different scientific goals and involve distinct methodologies. These include projects that are experimental or involve evaluation and assessment (Hemispheres, Visceres, etc.), projects that have more educational or pedagogical objectives (Second/Third Skin, etc.), projects that seek the development of assistive technologies or that are focused on design issues (OrienT, etc.), projects aimed at developing training environments (Auric Space, etc.), projects aimed at enhancing personal development among those struggling with issues of disability and impairment (Virtuarch, Pro(x)thesis, etc.), and projects that are far more exploratory in nature (Choreographic Maps, etc.).

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