The concept of co-presence is central to the social interaction research Professor Schmid Mast and her team focus on. Co-presence is achieved when an individual senses the presence of another entity or individual despite not sharing the same time or space. For Professor Schmid Mast, this means she can conduct experiments in which two users interact with and share a single virtual environment through the use of sophisticated tracking and avatar rendering technology. The system WorldViz installed for Schmid Mast ensures each user is represented to the other in real-time as a human avatar, with precise spatial accuracy.
Professor Schmid Mast’s Research Team
Schmid Mast has used WorldViz Virtual Reality technology to support her psychological research for over a decade. Although her new VR system enables co-presence, her work up to this point has implemented much human-avatar interaction, which she says has been important for her research on social interaction and power hierarchies. She comments: “For researchers studying how people behave in social interactions, one of the big challenges is that the behavior of each person is also a function of the behavior of his/her social interaction partner. Researchers ideally want to standardize the social interaction partner… Using the avatars that Vizard VR Software provides can be controlled to behave exactly the same way for each subject. In addition, ecological validity is also very high given the immersiveness of WorldViz-powered Virtual Reality.” To read more about Schmid Mast’s research, please visit our case study page.