The aims of this project are to understand how the brain integrates vision and touch to control hand movements, and to explore haptic control of hand movements using virtual reality technology. The methods we use are building on first (Nadine Aburumman) and second supervisor's (Marco Davare) research studying avatars, animation and human movements in virtual reality (Computer Science), and Davare’s work on the neuroscience of human hand function and neurorehabilitation (Clinical Sciences). The project we propose is multidisciplinary, combining research into 3D graphics, physics, AI, virtual reality techniques from computer science with new advances in brain mechanisms underlying perception and action, and multisensory integration from cognitive neuroscience.
To achieve the aims of this project, we will explore how the brain processes sensory signals for controlling movements online and generate a perception of the environment, while multisensory information will be experimentally manipulated in a virtual reality setup. We aim to simulate the forces produced during hand-object interaction in order to render a highly realistic feedback of grasping movements.
The successful applicants will join the internationally recognised researchers in the Department of Computer Science. This project is multidisciplinary: grasping and hand movements are actively being studied across robotics, AI, human computer interaction, cognitive neuroscience and physiotherapy. This research is focused on modelling grasping movements and feedback in immersive environments and producing a sense of ownership and agency over a virtual hand. Hand movements and object interactions are crucial features for training/simulation applications (e.g. flight, driving, medical simulators, robotics), where the ability to interact with simulated environments is paramount to an immersive experience.
Applicants will have or be expected to receive a first or upper-second class honours degree in an Engineering, Computer Science, Design, Mathematics, Physics or a similar discipline. A Postgraduate Masters degree is not required but may be an advantage. We encourage applicants with a strong background in programming C/C++/C# (preferably using UE4 or Unity) to apply. In addition, they should be highly motivated, able to work in a team, collaborate with others and have good communication skills.