Sentience Lab: PhD and Master Students

The enormous increase of data generated by the internet and sensing technologies (Big Data) has given rise to technical problems such as the processing of vast amounts of data, as well as problems of interpretation in the analysis, understanding and communicating of data. Given the dominance of visual sense in human beings, it is not surprising that visualisation has been, and remains, a key method of data representation and analysis. However new tools and methods that involve other senses and experiential modalities offer new ways of organising, representing, navigating, and interpreting data.

Sentience is the ability to experience sensations. The vision for Sentience Lab is to create a unique facility to foster research and development of multi-sensory, interactive and immersive ways of representing, translating, and interpreting data – visually, acoustically, haptically, spatially, performatively, and narratively. Combining multiple sensory channels minimizes the uncertainty of noisy or complex inputs, and can provide new perspectives and insights. Immersion provides benefits beyond traditional, purely screen-based visualisation tools: it can lead to better perception of data geometry, more intuitive data understanding, and improved retention of relationships in the data.

The physical resources of Sentience Lab initially comprise dedicated high-performance rendering hardware with commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software applications and hardware facilities for immersive virtual reality and visualisation, and networked linkages to existing laboratories and lecture theatres. These resources will support the creation of high fidelity, data-rich, interactive virtual environments. The lab will enable project teams the opportunity for real-time collaboration through immersion and interaction in virtual environments, which can be simultaneously shared with remote team members.

 

PhD

We are looking for a PhD candidate for exploring new ways of immersive data visualisation, using cutting edge hardware and software to create single- and multi-user visualisations scenarios with new and intuitive interaction methods. The ideal candidate should have a sound knowledge of virtual reality, computer graphics, HMD and other display technologies, Human perception, HCI, and principles of data visualisation. Technical skills should include programming experience in C++/Java/C#/Unity and shader programming, experience in software design and construction, software testing, versioning systems, the integration and/or creation of libraries, and cross-platform development.

 

Master

We are looking for a Master of Creative Technologies candidate for exploring new ways of immersive data visualisation, using cutting edge hardware and software to create single- and multi-user visualisations scenarios with new and intuitive interaction methods. The ideal candidate should have an interest in virtual reality, computer graphics, HMD and other display technologies, HCI, and principles of data visualisation. Technical skills should include programming experience in C#/Unity and – if possible – shader programming, as well as experience in software design and construction.

 

Master Degree Scholarship for VR Data Visualisation

A scholarship is available for a Master of Creative Technologies student to design, develop, and test a fully immersive data visualisation, e.g. for Earthquake data or for NeuCube, in conjunction with other institutes (e.g. KEDRI) and/or industry. The scholarship will be formally advertised in November.

Sentience Lab provides the hardware and a VR software framework which is developed to a level that enables advanced research and teaching. The project will build on this framework, strengthen it, and extend its capabilities.

Applicants can contact Sentience Lab Director Dr. Stefan Marks with the necessary documentation.

Example visualisation of New Zealand earthquake data

Example visualisation of New Zealand earthquake data

 

References

Hanson, A. J. (2014). Putting Science First: Distinguishing Visualizations from Pretty Pictures. IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, 34(4), 63–69.

Kuchera-Morin, J., Wright, M., Wakefield, G., Roberts, C., Adderton, D., Sajadi, B., … Majumder, A. (2014). Immersive full-surround multi-user system design. Computers & Graphics, 40, 10–21. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.cag.2013.12.004

LaViola, J. J., & Keefe, D. F. (2011). 3D Spatial Interaction: Applications for Art, Design, and Science. In ACM SIGGRAPH 2011 Courses (p. 1:1–1:75). New York, NY, USA: ACM. http://doi.org/10.1145/2037636.2037637

Moloney, J., & Harvey, L. (2004). Visualization and ‘auralization’ of architectural design in a game engine based collaborative virtual environment. In Eighth International Conference on Information Visualisation, 2004. IV 2004. Proceedings (pp. 827–832). http://doi.org/10.1109/IV.2004.1320236