HitLab NZ (Human Interface Technology Lab New Zealand)

 

Project Number: 2019-16

Project Leader: Simon Hoermann HIT Lab / Applied Immersive Gaming Initiative

Host Department: HIT Lab NZ

Project Title: User Experience Design for complex interventions in an agile development environment

Project outline: The successful candidate for this position will join the User Experience Research Group (hosted by the Human Interface Technology Lab NZ) and assist the design of novel user interfaces for complex interventions in the general field of transformative games and applications.

The student will join a team of researchers and domain specialists and work towards the design and evaluation of user experience prototypes in an iterative and incremental way. In particularely agile practices as described by the Scrum framework will need to be followed to steer the project towards a successful conclusion.

The student will need to support the systematic data gathering, requirement analysis and usability evaluation with a variety of different technologies and methodologies. We expect to use eye-tracking, key and mouse logging, as well as questionnaires, interviews, and user observations.

Specific Requirements: The ideal candidate should have strong skills in software development and/or user experience design, including requirement analysis and user-centered design. A strong understanding of the Scrum framework and lean development best practices ideally related to Interactive Systems Development are highly desired. Previous experience with rapid prototyping and evaluating are also highly desired. Questionnaire development using Qualtrics and the ability to conduct thematic analyses of interview data is highly desired.

 

 

Project Number: 2019-18

Project Leader: Simon Hoermann HIT Lab NZ

Host Department: HIT Lab NZ

Project Title: Evaluating Multisensory VR experiences for collaborative engagement

Project outline: This summer project is about integrating a tracking and logging components in a Virtual Reality (VR) simulator. The Virtual Reality User Experience Research Group (hosted by the Human Interface Technology Lab NZ) is developing various VR simulators and is looking for a passionate student to contribute to the development of a novel extension that supports collaborative engagement and tracking.

The VR simulator is developed using Unity as the game engine. The hardware includes high-fidelity audio equipment, custom-made and off-the-shelf tangible interaction and feedback devices, head-mounted displays of the latest generation and several gaming PCs with top-notch CPU and GPU.

The summer project's goal is to build and evaluate an extension of a VR simulator that allows collaborative engagement as well as accurate tracking of user activities. This process involves software development using Unity.

The student will have the opportunity to support the validation of the extension and to evaluate aspects of the user experience.

Specific Requirements: The ideal candidate should have skills in using Unity3D and/or a background in game development, software engineering, computer science, building networked applications and/or C++/C#.

 

 

Project Number: 2019-19

Project Leader: Simon Hoermann HIT Lab / Applied Immersive Gaming Initiative

Host Department: HIT Lab NZ

Project Title: Building a multisensory training system for firefighters

Project outline: This summer project is about integrating multisensory feedback components in a Virtual Reality (VR) simulator. The Multisensory User Experience Research Group (hosted by the Human Interface Technology Lab NZ) is developing a VR simulator and is looking for a highly motivated student to contribute to the development of multisensory feedback components for that project.

The VR simulator is developed using Unity as the game engine. The hardware includes high-fidelity audio equipment, custom-made and off-the-shelf tangible interaction and feedback devices, an HTC Vive head-mounted display and a gaming PC with top-end graphics performance.

The summer project's goal is to build wildfire training scenarios (designs provided by the researcher) and to integrate multisensory feedback. This process involves software development using Unity and is envisioned to include (but not limited to) audio, visual, olfactory as well as tactile feedback. The aim is to provide realistic and synchronized feedback that enhances the user experience and actively supports the interaction with the virtual environment to foster an experiential learning experience.

The student will have the opportunity to support a research study to evaluate aspects of the user experience. This will be part of the research that is currently being carried out and help to explore the effectiveness of various multisensory feedback components for firefighter training.

Specific Requirements: The ideal candidate should have strong skills in using Unity3D. A software development background in C++, scripting languages or Java could be beneficial as well. Ideally, the candidate also has experience in one or more of the following topics: Arduino development or 3D Computer-Aided Design and visualization.

 

 

Project Number: 2019-20

Project Leader: Simon Hoermann

Host Department: HIT Lab NZ / School of Product Design

Project Title: Designing a social skill game for patients after an acquired brain injury

Project outline: This summer project is about supporting the design of an applied game for patients with an acquired brain injury, such as a stroke or a traumatic brain injury, to help them improve their social functioning.

The project is currently in its early stages. Therefore, the summer internship will be focused on explorative research, such as interviews with domain experts and end-users. In collaboration with other researchers, qualitative data will be collected, analyzed and summarized and low-fidelity prototypes will be created and evaluated.

The student will, with the help of the previously acquired knowledge in the field of study, as well as based on the collected qualitative data create a detailed model of end-users and context of use. Based on current best practices, prototypes and applications that might exist in the market or in scientific venues will be evaluated for their suitability. Early insights into the viability, practicality as well as potential uptake of the low-fidelity prototypes will be gathered.

The internship will be within the Health Games Research Group (hosted by the Human Interface Technology Lab NZ). However, it is anticipated that this project will also involve collaboration with people from the local industry and a clinical rehabilitation center in Christchurch.

Specific Requirements: We are looking for a highly motivated student to contribute to this project. The ideal candidate should study towards a social/health science degree in the field of Speech and Language Pathology or a closely related field. A software development background is not required however good skills with Microsoft Office products such as PowerPoint and Word are essential.

 

 

 

Project Number: 2019-22

Project Leader: Simon Hoermann HIT Lab / Applied Immersive Gaming Initiative

Host Department: HIT Lab NZ

Project Title: Data Experience Design for Complex Information in Transformative Applications

Project outline: The successful candidate for this position will join the User Experience Research Group (hosted by the Human Interface Technology Lab NZ) and assist the design of novel user interfaces for complex data communication in the field of transformative applications.

The project is currently in its early stage and design and low-fidelity prototyping will be carried out in collaboration with the rest of the team. The specific goals for this project are to find variable ways to analyse and visualize complex information so that it is understandable for the target audience.

In particular, we envision that the internship student will develop a web-based application that the target audience can use to simulate the long term impact of decisions in a short time frame in a scientifically accurate way. Previously collected data will be used and computational models will be evaluated for their suitability this project and if required modified.

If time permits the development and validation of a system to collect user data on a larger scale will also be part of the project as a secondary outcome.

Specific Requirements: The ideal candidate should have strong skills in applied data science and/or software engineering and be willing to work with a team of people with diverse backgrounds. Data analysis, Python programming, and some web-development skills are essential.

 

 

Project Number: 2019-54

Project Leader: Dr Sungchul Jung

Host Department: HIT Lab NZ

Project Title: Multisensory Virtual Reality for High Level of Immersion

Project outline: This summer project is about integrating multisensory feedback components in a Virtual Reality (VR) simulator. The Multisensory User Experience Research Group (hosted by the Human Interface Technology Lab NZ) is developing a VR simulator and is looking for a highly motivated student to contribute to the development of multisensory feedback components for that project.

The VR simulator is developed using Unity as the game engine. The hardware includes high-fidelity audio equipment (headphones and a multi-channel speaker set-up), custom-made and off-the-shelf tangible interaction and feedback devices, a 6K 270-degree active stereoscopic 3D projection system (and/or HTC Vive Head Mounted Display) and a gaming PC with top-end graphics performance.

The summer project's goal is to integrate multisensory feedback for several scenarios. This process involves software development using Unity and is envisioned to include but not limited to audio, visual as well as vibration feedback. The aim is to provide realistic and synchronized feedback that enhances the user experience and actively supports the interaction with the virtual environment.

The student will have the opportunity to support a research study to evaluate aspects of the user experience. This will be part of research that is currently being carried out and help to explore the effectiveness of various multisensory feedback components.

 Specific Requirements: Programming experience in C#/C++. Networking, Arduino

Experience with game engine programming such as with Unity or Unreal is a plus.

 

 

Project Number: 2019-55

Project Leader: Dr Sungchul Jung

Host Department: HIT Lab NZ

Project Title: Effective Locomotion in multi-user Virtual Reality

Project outline: This project involves investigating effective locomotion technique for the multi-users in virtual reality (VR). There are many locomotion techniques in the VR community such as walking in place, redirected walking, joystick walking, Arm-swing walking, segway walking, and teleportation to give the user to explore the virtual environment freely. However, most of the locomotion techniques were developed for a single VR user mainly, and it is not unclear what is the best way to represent group locomotion in a multi-user VR without side effect such as a cybersickness. Besides, it is not unclear how the partner's locomotion type will affect the user's perception when they communicating while walking together in the virtual environment. This is a novel and challenging research problem that we are actively working on at the HIT Lab NZ.

The project team will explore how implementing a number of known locomotion techniques such as teleportation, walking in place, and joystick walking as a testbed in a multi-user VR scenario. The team will work with VR equipment including tracking devices and controllers for representing the locomotion in real-time in VR. The selected student will assist in the exploration of ways of group locomotion technologies for multi-user VR.

 Specific Requirements: Programming experience in C#/C++. Networking

Experience with game engine programming such as with Unity or Unreal is a plus.

 

 

Project Number: 2019-88

Project Leader: Thammathip Piumsomboon

Host Department: HIT Lab NZ

Project Title: Automated Machine Learning Agents for Virtual Reality Game Testing

Project outline: Recent advancements in deep reinforcement learning have demonstrated its capability in solving cognitive problems in a variety of domain. At the frontier of artificial intelligence (AI), the testing ground is in Esports gaming where AIs compete with professional players in computer games such as Dota 2. OpenAI Five has defeated the world champion team in Dota 2, a MOBA (Multiplayer online battle arena) game. DeepMind's AlphaStar has also shown its superiority in Starcraft II, an RTS (real-time strategy) game. Besides providing increasing challenges or help trained human players, AIs could help developers test their software. Game testing has been a bottleneck in the game development process, costing time and resources. This is a challenge that AIs could address and potentially help enhance productivity.

For the summer project, we aim to explore AIs for immersive game testing, especially in virtual reality (VR). We want to investigate the challenges that are inherent to the automated VR game testing and identify potential solutions. We plan to use Google's TensorFlow for AI training, and the Unity game engine with their ML agents for simulation. We will also work with either the HTC Vive Pro or the Microsoft Mixed Reality headset through SteamVR plugin with Unity when human testing is required.

The student will have the opportunity to support the research and development of the ML agents for immersive game testing.

Specific Requirements: The ideal candidate should have skills in using Unity3D game engine and C# scripting language. A software development background in Python and some experience developing for VR interfaces will be beneficial.

 

 

Project Number: 2019-90

Project Leader: Stephan Lukosch, Thammathip Piumsomboon

Host Department: HIT Lab NZ

Project Title: Superhuman Sports in Mixed Reality

Project outline: Superhuman sports allow humans to compete with each other by overcoming cognitive and physical limitations with technology. Superhuman sports are defined as activities that (1) rely on technology for human augmentation to enhance a human ability, (2) involve physical fitness and skills and (3) are played for fun, competition or health reasons. Superhuman sports are supposed to leverage on the continuing popularity of video games not only among players but also spectators, as can be seen in a large number of participants in e-sport competitions.

The goal of the summer project is to design and develop a new superhuman sport that motivates players and spectators to become physically active again and to not only watch or play video games requiring minimal exerting physical activity. For that purpose, the design should leverage on serious game design approaches and create a superhuman sport that addresses the requirements described in the following.

  • The superhuman sport has to use mixed reality equipment.
  • The superhuman sport has to take current hardware limitations into account and create gameplay such that tracking, latency and limited field of view issues are avoided.
  • The superhuman sports has to require physical activity, some sort of social interaction and competition (both can be real-time or delayed).
  • The superhuman sport has to engage at least 2 players or 2 teams in a competition against another for entertainment/fun or for improving overall health.
  • The superhuman sport has to be designed in such a way that the audience can follow the gameplay or is even involved in the gameplay.
  • The student will have the opportunity to support a research study to evaluate aspects of the user experience.

Specific Requirements: The ideal candidate should have skills in using game engines such as Unreal or Unity3D. A software development background in C++, scripting languages or Java could be beneficial as well. Ideally, the candidate also has experience in one or more of the following topics: Arduino development, audio recording/processing/mixing or 3D Computer-Aided Design and visualization.