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Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) enable the leveraging of cerebral activity of users in order to interact with computer systems. Originally designed for assisting motor-impaired people, a new trend is emerging towards the use of BCI for a larger audience using passive BCI systems, which are able to transparently provide information regarding the users’ mental states. Virtual Reality (VR) technology could largely benefit from inputs provided by passive BCIs. VR enables to immerse users in 3D computer-generated environments, in a way to make them feel present in the virtual space, allowing through complete control of the environment, to offer several applications ranging from training and education, to social networking and entertainment. Given the growing interest of society and major industrial groups‘ investments, VR is considered as a major revolution in Human-Computer Interaction. However, to this day, VR has not yet reached its predicted level of democratization and largely remains at the state of an entertaining experiment. This can be explained by the difficulty to characterize users’ mental state during interaction and the inherent lack of adaptation in the presentation of the virtual content. In fact, studies have shown that users experience VR in different ways. While approximately 60% of users experience “cybersickness”, which represents the set of deleterious symptoms that may occur after a prolonged use of virtual reality systems, users can also suffer from breaks in presence and immersion, due to rendering and interaction anomalies which can lead to a poor feeling of embodiment and incarnation towards their virtual avatars. In both cases user’s experience is severely impacted as VR experience strongly relies on the concepts of telepresence and immersion. The aim of this project is to pave the way to the new generation of VR systems leveraging the electrophysiological activity of the brain through a passive BCI to level-up the immersion in virtual environments. The objective is to provide VR systems with means to evaluate the users’ mental states through the real-time classification of EEG data. This will improve users’ immersion in VR by reducing or preventing cybersickness, and by increasing levels of embodiment through the real time adaptation of the virtual content to the users’ mental states as provided by the BCI. In order to reach this objective, the proposed methodology is to (i) investigate neurophysiological markers associated with early signs of cybersickness, as well as neuromarkers associated with the occurrence of VR anomalies; (ii) build on existing signal processing methods for the real-time classification of these markers associating them with corresponding mental states and (iii) provide mechanisms for the adaptation of the virtual content to the estimated mental states.

Call Topic: Advanced Brain-Computer Interfaces for Novel Interactions (BCI), Call 2020
Start date: (36 months)
Funding support: 743 332,43 €

Project partners

  • Centre de Recherche en Informatique, Signal et Automatique de Lille - France (Coordinator)
  • Centre de Recherche Inria Rennes - Bretagne Atlantique - France
  • ETH Zurich - Switzerland
  • KOÇ UNIVERSITY - Intelligent User Interfaces Laboratory - Turkey