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XR for the People

17 July
2022

Sammy Ofer School of Communications

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In June, the symposium “XR for the people” was held at Reichman University – a unique and innovative conference led by Prof. Doron Friedman, head of the Advanced Reality Lab at the School of Communications, who said: “I am willing to bet that in 20 years we will look back and try to understand how our world turned completely upside down.”

 

The conference covered developments in the fields of VR, AR and the “metaverse,” with an emphasis on the human factor, and included several lectures and demonstrations. It opened with a unique demo by Australian philosopher David Chalmers, VR researchers Mel Slater from Barcelona and Prof. Doron Friedman, head of the Advanced Reality Lab at Reichman University’s School of Communications – and Albert Einstein; they all met in a virtual world to discuss Chalmers’s new book, Reality +, which addresses philosophical questions arising from virtual worlds. Among other things, Chalmers maintains that there is no fundamental difference between “reality” and “virtual reality,” and that even if people spend most of their time in virtual reality in the future, they can still have meaningful lives.

To watch part of the demo click here >>

One of the aims of the conference was to bridge between academia and industry. Some of the topics discussed were: How virtual reality can help basic science in brain research and psychology, what brain research and psychology can teach us about the development of virtual and augmented reality, and applications in the fields of mental health, training, and teaching. In addition, a panel was held on the expected dangers of the transition from social networks to the metaverse.

“The field of XR – virtual reality, augmented reality and telepresence technologies – is currently undergoing rapid development,” said Prof. Doron Friedman. “There are many complex problems to solve, so it could take a good few years, but I am willing to bet that in 20 years we will look back and try to understand how our world turned completely upside down. The potential for change is even greater than that of smartphones.”


During the conference, live demos were held presenting outstanding projects by Reichman University students, including:

  • Shir Shviro and Dean Herzlich - Communications students who developed the first prototype in the world for the treatment of “Hikikomori” syndrome using VR.
  • Gal Yaar & Danielle Yosef – Psychology students who presented the application they developed for a VR device, which focuses on improving cognitive executive brain functions.
  • Alon Shoa – A student of the M.A. program in Machine Learning and Data Science, who presented the artificial intelligence he developed based on the GPT-3 model.

 

Conference participants were also offered a taste of the way content is delivered to students through VR devices, a method that the university has begun to employ recent years.

 

In addition, a number of companies from the industry presented live demos of XR experiences:

  • AR51 – A system for capturing motion using only cameras, which enables the experience of entering another body.
  • Woojer – A combination of virtual reality with a vibrating vest that converts sound into a physical sensation.
  • VRgo – Creates content and workshops using virtual reality devices

 


Finally, Sheba Medical Center presented the way in which neurocognitive assessments are performed using VR experiences.