To research the use of human interface technology for health and well-being application as well as for other domains that require human–computer interaction. The focus is to understand how technology like Virtual and Mixed Reality and game design elements can influence user experience and support healthy and people with disabilities in achieving their full potential.
- Clifford R., Hoermann S., Jung S., Billinghurst M. and Lindeman R. (2019) Creating a Stressful Decision Making Environment for Aerial Firefighter Training in Virtual Reality. In IEEE VR 2019 - Proceedings of the 2019 IEEE Virtual Reality Conference.
- Tran KTP., Jung S., Hoermann S. and Lindeman R. (2019) MDI: A Multi-channel Dynamic Immersion Headset for Seamless Switching between Virtual and Real World Activities. In IEEE VR 2019 - Proceedings of the 2019 IEEE Virtual Reality Conference.
- Clifford RMS., Khan H., Hoermann S., Billinghurst M. and Lindeman RW. (2018) Development of a multi-sensory virtual reality training simulator for airborne firefighters supervising aerial wildfire suppression. Reutlingen, Germany: 2018 IEEE Workshop on Augmented and Virtual Realities for Good (VAR4Good), 18 Mar 2018. In VAR4Good 2018 http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/VAR4GOOD.2018.8576892.
- Clifford RMS., Khan H., Hoermann S., Billinghurst M. and Lindeman RW. (2018) The Effect of Immersive Displays on Situation Awareness in Virtual Environments for Aerial Firefighting Air Attack Supervisor Training. Reutlingen, Germany: 25th IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces (VR 2018), 18-22 Mar 2018. In Proceedings VR 2018: 533-534. http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/VR.2018.8446139.
- Clifford RMS., Marcadet N., Hoermann S., Oliver H., Billinghurst M. and Lindeman RW. (2018) Evaluating the Effects of Realistic Communication Disruptions in VR Training for Aerial Firefighting. Wurzburg, Germany: 10th International Conference on Virtual Worlds and Games for Serious Applications (VS-Games), 5-7 Sep 2018. In Proceedings VSGames 2018: 8. http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/VS-Games.2018.8493423.
As the only school in Aotearoa New Zealand that offers research-informed teaching in applied immersive game design, the School of Product Design | Te Kura Hanga Otinga is a natural fit for Dr Simon Hoermann.
Simon’s area of expertise is virtual reality technology for health and wellbeing applications. It is an interest that has taken him a long way from his undergrad years studying applied computer science at the University of Bozen, in Italy.
“My interest has always been to use technology in an applied way, to solve real world problems – specifically to help people with disabilities, and to give all people the possibility to reach their full potential.”
“What I discovered is if you just use the latest technology, you don’t really create a motivation. The best way to do that is to strategically combine it with elements from computer games; computer games are very engaging.”
This discovery came from Simon’s research at a hospital where he worked for two years with patients after a stroke, focusing on a technology for upper limb motor rehabilitation.
“I was invited to do my PhD in Information Science and Psychology at the Human Computer Interaction Lab in Otago, which was really exciting as it combined technology, design and science. I also started teaching undergrads the basics of human computer interaction and interactive systems design.”
In 2013, Simon started his post-doctoral fellowship with the Department of Medicine at the University of Otago, which looked at how to use augmented reflection technology in clinical settings to help patients recover better after a stroke.
He then went to the Positive Computing Laboratory at the University of Sydney as a postdoctoral research associate, focusing on technology to support wellbeing and early prevention of mental health problems for young people.
In 2017, Simon joined UC's Human Interface Technology Laboratory | Tangata Hangarau, Hangarau Tangata (HIT Lab) and remains an affiliate of the centre. “HIT Lab gave me the chance to work on virtual reality and immersive experiences. It’s the technology that enables you to create and control experiences – even beyond what’s possible in reality – and use this to solve real world problems.”
HIT Lab has been strongly involved in the design of the Applied Immersive Game Design undergrad course.
“The HIT Lab is one of the leading research labs in virtual and augmented reality technology, so students can get a lot of those skills in-built into the Bachelor of Product Design programme, taught by the leaders of the sector.
“We give undergrad students the opportunity to learn about these possibilities to prepare and excite them about the potential of this fast-growing industry. We are very much at the forefront of the technology that has the potential to become commonplace in the future.”
Simon is currently involved in a number of research projects on virtual reality and games design for health and training interventions. This includes how to use virtual reality technology to help people with eating disorders, a social skill training game for deaf and hard-to-hear children, a training simulator for aerial firefighting, and a virtual reality smoking cessation game, to name a few.
“It’s about using virtual reality technology and games design to unleash the power of human potential.”