Disney Research Shows How VR Can Be Used to Study Human Perception – Road to VR


Researchers from Disney use a virtual reality headset and a
real ball tracked in VR to understand the perceptual factors
behind the seemingly simple act of catching a thrown object.
The researchers say the work sets a foundation for more complex
and meaningful dynamic interaction between users in VR and
real-world objects.

Disney Research, an arm of The Walt Disney Company, does
broad research that applies across the company’s media and
entertainment efforts. With Disney known as being one of
the pioneering companies to employ VR in the out-of-home space
prior to the contemporary era of VR, it should come as no
surprise that the company continues to explore this space.

In a
new paper from Disney Research
 a VR headset is used in
conjunction with a high-end tracking system to recreate the
simple experience of catching a real thrown ball in VR. But
why? With the experience being simulated in virtual reality,
the researchers are free to easily modify it—in ways
largely impossible in real life—as they see fit to study
different aspects of the perception and action of catching a
thrown object.

In this case, researchers Matthew K.X.J. Pan and Günter
Niemeyer started with a visualization that showed just a ball
flying through the air as you’d see in real life. Using VR they
were able to add a virtual trajectory line to the ball’s path,

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