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Immersive Environments

The Immersive Environments project is investigating new paradigms for human-computer interaction, computer-mediated communication and telepresense that broaden the range of collaborative activities that can be effectively and comfortably carried out over a distance.
The project aims to create environments that are perceptually engaging, using real and virtual vision, sound and touch, with an emphasis on promoting a sense of presence over a distance.  The team approaches this aim with a focus on communication flow, supporting mediated human-to-human interaction, and application specific tasks and interaction patterns.  Solutions make use of both existing and special purpose hardware and software and broadband connections between sites.


Figure 1: A specialist in consultation with a patient in a remote location


The current focus of the project is in the area of telehealth, or the remote delivery of healthcare. Specifically the system under development, the Fargnosticon, is designed to support examination of patients by remote specialists through the aid of an attendant, who is physically present with the patient. The name "Fargnosticon" is derived from far (that is, far away, remote); gnosis (meaning knowledge); and panopticon (a building where all rooms can easily be observed from a single point).

In this activity, we make use of current video conferencing technologies while exploring the space of what's possible in telemedicine with technologies beyond basic video and voice interaction. The project is driven by clinical partners that do follow up examinations of patients over many years. These surgeons live and work in Melbourne but have a significant number of patients in Tasmania, regional Victoria and overseas. Video conferencing alone is not enough to support the consultation and examination these surgeons do remotely. One focus of the system development is on supporting situational awareness by providing a natural understanding of both the remote environment and the focus of attention of others within the environment. Another area of interest is the development and evaluation of guiding technologies to enable the specialist to guide the attendant in examination tasks.

Past Projects

Connecting People - Exploring remote social interaction
Medical Training - Supporting training of surgeons through technology (including collaborative surgical training)
Haptic Workbench - A haptic (touch) and graphical environment for interactive applications

Research Team

Chris Gunn Project Leader
Matthew Hutchins
Doug Palmer
Jocelyn Smith
Duncan Stevenson
Ken Taylor
Matt Adcock