Our current projects

Partnering with organisations worldwide, the Australian Research Centre for Interactive and Virtual Environments (IVE) at the University of South Australia brings together the unique alignment of computer science, neuroscience, art, architecture and design to solve challenges for people, society and industry. Explore our projects below.

Explore by industry

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    Digital Societal, Urban and Creative Cultures

    Context aware technologies, such as augmented reality, allow novel forms of interaction with physical environments, including performance environments. This research seeks insights into how place might be explored as an active mnemonic, a state of literary and artistic expression, or topopoetics in the form of subjective perception represented at a 1:1 scale in a physical space. 

    Mnemo is an application developed for the Microsoft HoloLens augmented reality headset by artist, Simon Biggs, and software engineer, Puzhi Yao, at UniSAs Creative Computing Studio. Developed in Unity 3D using C#, the application uses speech recognition, speech to text, gaze recognition, ray-casting and network protocols, to co-locate spoken texts with tangible objects in the environment around the wearer of the HoloLens.  

    The software works with multiple head units and wearers, allowing users to see what each other are seeing in the space around them and to generate and share texts within the space. Each wearers text is rendered in a distinctive colour, allowing readers to differentiate between the origin of the different texts. Interactors can be co-located or located remotely to one another, allowing the creation of shared spaces at a distance. Mnemo was premiered at the Transient Topographies symposium at the National University of Irelands Moore Institute in April 2018. Mnemo was also presented at the 2018 Electronic Literature Organization conference in Montreal in August 2018.

    Researchers: Professor Simon Biggs (Artist and Developer), Puzhi Yao (Developer)

    Woman holding box for Mnemo project

    Double Agent

    Digital Societal, Urban and Creative Cultures

    Double Agent is a large-scale interactive 3D digital projection environment exploring questions of agency between humans and machines. Viewers interact with and inform the behaviour of a dynamic graphical agent whilst a similar graphical agent's behaviour, located high above the interactive agent, responds to a machine learning generated pseudo-human. The interplay between the two agents explores the similarities and differences in how the Double Agent behavioural system responds simultaneously to human and simulated human behaviour. 

    Double Agent incorporates software developed by artist, Simon Biggs, and includes live motion tracking, a 3D physics engine and machine learning algorithms. The research makes technical and conceptual contributions in the areas of interactive media, machine learning and human-computer interaction. A novel aspect of the work is the application of Recurrent Neural Networks to facilitate the machine learning of human movement. The system was trained over several months with eight hours of motion capture data of two dancers interacting with Double Agent. The resulting data was deployed in the interactive environment along with live movement data generated by viewers. 

    Double Agent was commissioned for Adelaide's Museum of Discovery’s (MOD.) inaugural exhibition, MOD.ify. The museum explores and articulates STEM disciplines in relation to creativity and innovation. Double Agent explores questions concerning artificial intelligence and automation. A dance-performance version of the work was presented as part of the 2018 Joint Dance Congress in Adelaide and subsequently exhibited at the 2019 International Conference on Movement and Computing at Arizona State University in the USA. 

    Researchers: Professor Simon Biggs (Artist and Systems Developer), Articulate Animal - Sue Hawksley and Tammy Arjona, Machine-Learning (Choreographer); Samya Bagchi (Engineering), and Professor Mark McDonnell (Scientific Advisor).

    Two boys playing with the Double Agent technology

    Creative Collaboration and Innovation in Virtual Environments

    Transformative Human Centred Design and Interaction

    This project investigates how shared virtual environments affect human interaction andcollaborative creativity across disciplines and how creativity in the arts andsciences might contribute to social transformation.  

    Recentadvances in ICT, networking, and social media technologies have illustrated howsocial formation can be affected by technological change. Multimodal approachesto interactivesystems, where multiple human communication and sensory systemsare engaged in interacting with computers and other humans, offer as yetunrealised potential in the creative arts,tele-collaboration, online educationand scenario simulation.  

    This project considersemerging communication and visualisation technologies, in the form ofnetworked,augmented and virtual reality systems, and investigates how these emergingtechnologies are likely to transform social interaction, collaboration, behaviour,and society.  

    Thisresearch employs hybrid methods derived from the creative arts, human-computer interaction research, and human movement and performance analysis,along withagile software development methods, to develop systems for, and gaininsights into, multimodal human-computer interaction and inter-personalinteraction in virtual and augmentedenvironments. 

    Researchers: Alex Degaris-Boot (Chief Investigator), Professor Simon Biggs, Professor Bruce Thomas and Associate Professor Alison Gwilt (Research Supervisors).

    Agile X

    Digital Societal, Urban and Creative Cultures

    Agile X was a series of interdisciplinary workshops involving artists, designers, architects, scientists and students to identify a 21st Century design experience based on the concept of Morphogenetic Prototyping.

    The workshops were held in the week of November 21st 2016 and involved a range of methodologies in the areas of Human-Computer Interaction, Biomimetics, 3D Modeling, Tangible Interface design, Bioprinting, Virtual Reality prototyping, Rapid Prototyping, Ontogeny, Genetic Programming, Evolutionary programming and MORPHOGENETIC PROTOTYPING.

    Morphogenetic prototyping supports the mapping of transdisciplinary models of biological system development to real world challenges in design and engineering disciplines. The ontogenetical (developmental biology) focus of this research offers an alternative to the traditional mechanistic interest of biomimetics in design and engineering.

    Researchers: Dr Tim McGinley, Dr Kei Hoshi, Associate Prof. Sally Plush and Dr Petra Gruber (University of Akron), with the involvement of Aurelien Forget (QUT), Prof. Nimish Biloria (UTS), Prof. Simon Biggs, Dr Linda Pearce, Dr Julie Collins, Brett Abroe, Dr Manual Muehlbauer (RMIT), Dr Sophie Wiszniak and Prof. Ning Gu.

    Morphogenetic Prototype Lab UniSA


    Digital Societal, Urban and Creative Cultures

    With Spheres, Sarah Neville successfully brought together a diverse team of creatives, engineers, scientists and academics to create a Dance for Virtual Reality. 

    An exciting collaboration between Adelaide College of the Arts, Dance at Flinders University and the Creative Computing Studio at the UniSA, Spheres investigated how it feels to dance in digital environments.

    The project successfully made use of Motion Capture and Virtual Reality technology to immerse audiences within a unique contemporary dance experience.

    Researchers: Sarah Neville (Director); Daish Malani (VR Interaction); Michael Russo (Motion Capture Consultation); Alexander Degaris-Boot (Motion Capture Consultion); Matthew Thomas (Composer); James Wilson (Game Engine Design)

    Spheres a Dance for Virtual Reality UniSA

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    Future Submarine Control Room and Consoles

    Transformative Human Centred Design and Interaction

    As part of the Future Submarine Program, this project is developing state-of-the-art design processes to aid in the development of complex confined space environments inhabited by people. Partnering with Lockheed Martin Australia, our researchers are assisting in the design and development of the control room layouts and physical ergonomics of future attack-class submarines, investigating the human factors that influence the usability of confined operational spaces informing the design process. 

    The project applies virtual reality technology and spatially-aware projection techniques onto physical models to support the design development and communication process to create realistic user experiences. Additionally, digital human mannequins are used to ensure the sizing of the environment fits the user population and provide visualisations of spaces to develop and evaluate physical access and sightlines. The purpose of the project is to ensure that new combat systems and equipment integrated into future submarines complement the needs of the crew and the Royal Australian Navy for the next 40 years.

    Chief Investigator: Dr Peter Schumacher

    Human Performance Research Network (HPRnet)

    Transformative Human Centred Design and Interaction

    The goal of the HPRnet project is to explore how virtual reality, wearable computing, cognitive neuroscience and mental training can be combined to enhance the training of human cognitive performance in complex environments and tasks. A key part of this work is to create synthetic environments representing training scenarios relevant to the Army.  

    Advanced and futuristic technologies, such as integrated augmented reality displays and drone control systems, may soon be part of the modern soldier's equipment. The cognitive impact of the soldier's use of these technologies is important for designers of these systems, yet little research has been conducted in this area. The experiment presented in this paper measures brain alpha power while participants completed a maze navigation task, aided by a virtual drone and augmented reality-like annotations in a virtual environment. Different conditions were designed to test whether varying drone control systems and visualisations could result in different measured alpha power. The results show that alpha power fluctuations are sensitive to manipulation of the virtual drone control system, making it a powerful and potentially real-time measure of a control system's difficulty of use and cognitive impact on the user. 

    Researchers: Professor Bruce Thomas, Professor Ina Bornkessel-Schlesewsky, Professor Matthias Schlesewsky, and Dr James Baumeister. 

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    iHealth for Anxiety and Asthma

    Enhancing Health, Medical and Wellbeing

    This project was designed to improve access to and uptake of evidence-based treatments for heightened psychological distress in young people with asthma. The project will evaluate iHealth technology (i.e. augmented reality, virtual reality, holographic technology) as a delivery mechanism for cognitive and behavioural therapy. 

    Development of iHealth tools will be guided by a comprehensive protocol for health program development, with direction from experts in design, information technology, respiratory medicine, and psychology. This project will measure the practicality and feasibility of these resources for youth, their parents and guardians, as well as health professionals. This study will provide essential pilot data to guide the development of a fully powered randomised controlled trial.

    Researchers: Associate Professor Kristin Carson-Chahhoud, Dr Andrew Tai, Associate Professor Nicola Spurrier, Dr Ross Smith, Professor Adrian Esterman, Professor Ian Gwilt, and Dr Helen Stallman, with special help from Channel 7 Childrens Research Foundation.

    RAHART - Augmented Reality, Sculpture and Wellbeing Trial

    Enhancing Health, Medical and Wellbeing

    Clinical evidence and applied programs suggest that access to public art has the ability to improve patients’ health and wellbeing. The Centre for Creative Health at the Royal Adelaide Hospital was established to respond to this research by providing a positive hospital environment and patient experience through the provision of art and design in a health-focused built environment. This project is a collaboration between researchers from the University of South Australia and IVE, the Centre for Creative Health, and the Royal Adelaide Hospital. The project will produce a design and prototype of a digital sculpture and wellbeing trial for use by the hospital community, made up of patients, carers, family, hospital staff, delivery, and service providers.  

    The team is also exploring the potential use of mobile technologies with augmented reality capabilities to guide visitors to and around the permanent sculptural works at the hospital. The application will aim to provide a digital map of the sculpturespresent information about each creative work, and offer a ‘mindfulness mode’ that can be used by stressed or anxious members of the community. The aim is to create a testable prototype of the AR Sculpture and Wellbeing Trial, which can be used to evaluate the desirability and feasibility of using AR technologies alongside traditional information communication media within the hospital environment.

    Researchers: Professor Ian Gwilt, Associate Professor Ross Smith and Michelle Cripps (Director of the Centre for Creative Health, RAH).

    Immersive Technologies to Support Pain Education and Training

    Enhancing Health, Medical and Wellbeing

    One in five Australians suffer from chronic pain and there are limited treatment options once physiological damage has been healed. This project investigates how immersive technologies can be incorporated into new brain training tools to support pain modulation and deliver essential education to support recovery. 

    Pain is a protective perceptual response shaped by contextual, psychological, and sensory inputs that suggest danger to the body. Sensory cues suggesting that a body part is moving toward a painful position may credibly signal the threat and thereby modulate pain. Virtual reality is being investigated as a solution for manipulating visual proprioceptive cues to alter movement-evoked pain in people with neck pain. Preliminary results indicated that visual-proprioceptive information modulated the threshold for movement-evoked pain, which suggests that stimuli that become associated with pain can themselves trigger pain. We are investigating how associated triggers can be altered or unlearned to support recovery. 

    Pain education is highly important to patient recovery; however, the current delivery methods through physiotherapists, textbooks and online sources are only adopted by some patients. We are exploring how existing pain education knowledge can be translated into immersive and engaging tools. The aim is to provide clinicians with a new tool in the form of immersive virtual reality to deliver high-quality training material and evaluate if adherence can be improved.

    Researchers: Daniel S Harvie, Markus Broecker, Ross T Smith, Ann Meulders, Victoria J Madden, and G Lorimer Moseley.

    Augmented Reality Assisted Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

    Enhancing Health, Medical and Wellbeing

    Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a form of non-invasive brain stimulation through the application of a magnetic field targeted at a specific area of the brain. TMS is a technique for treating a wide variety of neurological diseases and mental health. This project determines whether augmented reality can be used to enhance the application of existing medical procedures by combining real-time information from multiple sources to improve the delivery of medical procedures. This research explores improving precision and accuracy, reducing placement errors, and capturing detailed logging of treatment delivery regions to improve health outcomes. 

    TMS therapy is applied by the clinician using an applicator guided through the use of anatomical landmarks which are obtained manually or through MRI scans of the patients head and presented to the clinician via a display positioned by the patient. Clinicians are required to position the applicator over the patient’s head while referring to the display screen to identify the anatomical landmarks. To assist in this process, patients MRI brain scans and anatomical landmarks can be overlaid onto their head in real time using a Microsoft HoloLens. This enables the clinician to maintain their focus on the patient, improving the delivery and accuracy of the treatment. Early observations indicate the application of augmented reality through the Microsoft HoloLens can enhance the delivery of TMS therapy by providing adjunct information to assist clinical operators. 

    Researcher: Associate Professor Ross Smith

    Coping Schools

    Enhancing Health, Medical and Wellbeing

    Coping Schools forms part of a suite of products developed for health professionals, parents and students for the suicide prevention program ‘Care Collaborate Connect’ developed by Clinical Psychologist and UniSA Senior Lecturer Dr Helen Stallman. The branding and illustrative content developed by Margie Kenny for the program aimed to increase student engagement through effective communication design of the concepts and processes and would be measured through student feedback after a program trial.

    The branding and cartoon illustrations for Coping Schools make a connection between the psychological underpinnings of the program and each learner’s experience and point of view. The branding focusses on peer support and is graphically positioned within the broader context of the previously established Care Collaborate Connect communication design. The generic nature of the illustrations allows for representation of different age groups and aims to be relatively non-specific in culture and gender, whilst being relatable, engaging and reassuring.

    Pilot data with Year 8 students showed that one month after the lessons, students reported significant improvements in coping self-efficacy and reduced psychological distress. Most students said they enjoyed the program and 70% said other students would find it helpful or very helpful.

    Created by: Margie Kenny and Dr Helen Stallman.

    Echo Chair

    Transformative Human Centred Design and Interaction

    The Echo Chair is designed to address the issue of hearing your dinner partner in a sound polluted dining environment. The chair specifically caters to dinner for two, seated opposite each other. Using the acoustic properties of Echopanel, the exterior surface of the “wings” absorbs and deadens background noise while the interior surface is designed to amplify direct conversational sound by collecting and bouncing soundwaves toward the ears of the seated person.

    Echopanel is used in the upholstery of the back rest providing additional comfort while seated and as a sound absorbing surface when the seat is vacant. Echopanel is made from 60% recycled PET plastic bottles.

    The Echo Chair references the design aesthetic prevalent in many mid-century chair designs, focussing on negative spaces, floating surfaces and lightness of structure while acknowledging the sculptural presence of TH Brown dining chair and bar stool designs.

    Designer: Peter Walker

    Zero-energy Home Envelope Systems

    Enhancing Health, Medical and Wellbeing

    The project supports the development and optimisation of an external insulated envelope system with Mirage Homes as our industry partner for an affordable zero-energy house to reduce the cost of low-energy housing and make it available to a volume market.

    The aim is to optimize passive performance of the building envelope (wall, roof, floor and junctions) in order to minimize the reliance on active systems (e.g. air-conditioning). The project addresses health and well-being of homes by supporting a more comfortable indoor environment while at the same time reducing energy-costs and use.

    Poor building performance in homes has been a significant contributor to global warming and poor levels of indoor comfort can impact various aspects of well-being (e.g. sleep). The long term aim is to develop this prototype into a built home prototype for submission to the next US Solar Decathlon.

    Created by: Dr Dave Kroll, David Morris, Joti Weijers-Coghlan, and Mirage Homes.

    The Future Design Hub

    Enhancing Health, Medical and Wellbeing

    The Future Design Hub is both a physical space and an approach. It acknowledges the importance of Design Principles in seeking solutions for the future. The Hub is Helping Hand’s platform for developing innovation and technologies in the ageing space - driven by principles of co-design, commercialisation and collaboration.

    The Hub space is at 49 Buxton Street, North Adelaide, located within one of Helping Hand’s residential care homes. It offers the opportunity to explore, develop and test ideas and products which aim to improve the quality of life of older people. The provision of a physical space unlocks the opportunity to undertake research and projects in partnership with residents, as well as links to the broader Helping Hand community.

    The Future Design Hub is an Enterprising Partnership project between Helping Hand and UniSA. The two organisations have worked together for more than twenty years developing leading research and student placement programs.

    Helping Hand is a South Australian not-for-profit organisation offering home care services, retirement living and residential care home accommodation to over 7,000 clients in metropolitan and regional South Australia.

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    Rethinking Housing - Network Analysis for Digital Collaboration

    Digital Societal, Urban and Creative Cultures

    The housing sector has long been criticised for shortcomings in affordability, efficiency, quality, social and environmental responsiveness, and appropriateness of offerings. This project aims to understand persistent housing sector supply problems through analysis of digital collaborative practices. 

    Using interdisciplinary actor network theory and data visualisation techniques on a series of national case studies, with specific focuses on New South Wales and South Australia, this project will generate new knowledge for an emerging housing digital economy. Expected outcomes include enhanced capabilities of housing supply professionals, improved knowledge among public/private sector key decisionmakers, and development of digital collaborative behavioural frameworks for the sector. 

    The research outcomes will lead to increased capability of digital collaborative practices by industry and government responsible for our housing supply. Improved capability will enable better policy and practice decision-making by stakeholders, providing an effective and efficient housing supply sector. Benefits will include a more professional workforce, increased competitiveness, higher quality housing stock, and a better quality of life long-term.

    Chief investigators: Professor Kerry London and Professor Ning Gu.

    InSite - Visualising Energy Usage and Carbon Impact

    Digital Societal, Urban and Creative Cultures

    This project uses a co-design methodology to investigate how buildings’ energy consumption is visualised and communicated in public spaces. It aims to facilitate conversations about energy consumption in new and novel ways. This research brings together the fields of human computer interface, design, and environmental psychology to investigate how people understand and communicate the abstract notion of ‘energy’.   

    While energy usage, its source, and its environmental impact is largely invisible in daily life, the contribution of energy use to climate change is substantial and the global outcome catastrophicData visualisation techniques can facilitate conversations with and between end-users about the choices they make and the resulting environmental impacts that would otherwise be invisible and incomprehensible. 

    The project works with a number of stakeholder groups and engages in a variety of different ways centred around a design thinking and co-design approach. The outcomes from this project can help to support pro-environmental behaviour and reduce the significant greenhouse gas emissions associated with buildings and urban environments.

    Researcher: Professor Ian Gwilt (Chief investigator)

    Contributors: Dr Aaron Davis, Colleen Clarke, Dr Stephen BerryDr Ross Smith, Professor Bruce Thomas, Professor Simon Biggs, Professor Ning Gu, Dr Peter Schumacher, and Dr David Whaley.

    Time Layered Cultural Map of Australia (TLCMap)

    Digital Societal, Urban and Creative Cultures

    TLCMap aims to develop an online system to deliver researcher-driven national-scale infrastructure for the humanities, focused on mapping, time series, and data integration. Scholars of Australia and worldwide are well-served with digital resources and tools to deepen the understanding of Australia and its historical and cultural heritage. There are; however, significant barriers to use.  

    TLCMap will provide an umbrella infrastructure related to time and space, helping to activate and draw together existing high-quality resources. It will expand the use of Australian cultural and historical data for research through sharply defined and powerful discovery mechanisms, providing new tools for humanities researchers to use resources already created, and in turn to enrich those sources with tagging and cross-referencing.  

    By enabling more efficient spatial humanities research, this project supports existing research strengths and develops research infrastructure for the broader humanities research community. The visualisations in time and space provided by TLCMap will assist researchers to communicate their findings in the public sphere. Outcomes will include the discovery of hitherto hidden patterns in Australian cultural and historical life and a deeper engagement by the wider public in this heritage. 

    Jointly led by Professor Ning Gu and Dr Julie Nichols, and supported with the national TLCMap infrastructure, this UniSA sub-project focuses on digitally mapping complex layers of architectural and built heritage, centralising on the Ngadjuri/Burra region. As the site of a former copper mining town, the Burra region is important in early colonial Australian history and retains a great deal of heritage value. The Ngadjuri people are the Indigenous Australian people whose traditional lands relate to the districts of Peterborough, Burra and Robertstown in South Australia.

    Researchers: Professor Ning Gu and Dr Julie Nichols.

    Visualisation Tools for the Design of Manufactured High-End Instrumented Facilities

    Industrial Application and Immersive Technologies

    This five-year project is a collaboration between the University of South Australia (UniSA) and Jumbo Vision International (JVI) to investigate, develop, and productise Smart Manufacturing facilitating technologies. The partnership benefits from IVE’s unique capabilities in augmented reality visualisation of large system design and JVI’s expertise in the design and delivery of audio-visual solutions and command/control rooms. 

    The design process of manufactured high-end instrumented facilities, such as command centres and control panels, has its flaws and the traditional process requires significant time to meet and iterate, which has significant associated costs and can still result in a sub-optimal client experience. Physical prototypes are expensive and difficult to modify through iterations and virtual design lacks the ability to give future users physical interaction with the design and thus risks sub-optimal layouts, designs and forms. While virtual reality can provide fly-through animations and guided tours, it lacks tools to manipulate concepts. Augmented reality offers the ability to touch physically and walk around and modify the design concept in real time. This significantly aids a clients appreciation of the design and the effects of any changes, resulting in a better and more efficient end results.

    Researcher: Professor Bruce Thomas

    Narrative Visualisation - Exposing the Stories within Complex Data Sets

    Transformative Human Centred Design and Interaction

    Narrative visualisation is a field of research focused on the challenge of identifying and presenting the stories embedded within large complex data sets. It seeks to increase a person’s ability to explore and interpret the relationships embedded within data, exposing meaningful insights that can be used to inform decisions and responsive actions. IVE has partnered with the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Defence Science and Technology (DST) and Genix Ventures to explore the applicability of narrative visualisation in the handling of large international criminal cases. 

    Narrative visualisation helps tackle cases which are complex; comprise data that is both structured and unstructured, collected from a variety of sources; involve actors that are both people and physical assets, and require the interpretation of facts and assumed knowledge. The successful development of a visualisation technique enables users to explore the stories embedded in the data to reveal insights such as: Who or what was involved? What actually occurred? Where and when did it occur? And how and why did it happen? 

    Narrative visualisation proves a powerful tool that helps us make sense of large data sets. Its application can be applied across many domains where an understanding of the relationship between actors contained within the data is revealed as a series of inter-related stories offering meaningful insights into large complex data sets.

    Researchers: Dr Andrew Cunningham and Dr James Walsh

    Developing Pedagogical Solutions to Linguistic and Cultural Barriers in Design Education Supporting Asian Architecture Students

    Transformative Human Centred Design and Interaction

    As international students form a large part of the student cohort in the globalised tertiary education system, design educators face complex linguistic and cultural challenges in their studios and critique systems.

    To advance learning and teaching in this context, this project aimed to improve understanding of the needs of Asian design students, focusing on the impact of language in design. It also aimed to develop systems and protocols to better support international students’ learning via a series of design experiments and focus group interviews with key stakeholders across five Australian universities.

    Findings from the design experiments and interview data generated new knowledge about design students’ communication abilities in the studio, which are heavily influenced by their native language and culture. The findings were then used to shape the advice in the Good practice guide. A four-part framework for supporting linguistic and cultural diversity in architectural and design education.

    This guide contributed to the development of a design curriculum that takes into consideration linguistic and cultural differences between design students. The adoption and extension of the project outcomes in Australian architectural and design schools was facilitated by the project team, and further reinforced with the support of professional bodies and submission to accreditation standards.

    These pedagogical reforms better prepare the Australian design education sector for internationalisation and increased global collaboration.

    Researchers: Professor Ning Gu (Chief Investigator); Dr JuHyun Lee; Professor Michael Ostwald; Professor Jane Burry; Professor Mark Taylor, Associate Professor Richard Tucker & Professor Robin Drogemuller