Self-funded PhD opportunities

Substitutional Environments

  • Application end date: All year round
  • Funding Availability: Self-funded PhD students only
  • Department: School of Creative Technologies
  • PhD Supervisor: Dr Adalberto Simeone

Project detail:

Substitutional Environments are a particular class of Virtual Environments on Paul Milgram’s Virtual Reality Continuum. These Virtual Environments are obtained by substituting physical objects in the user’s immediate surroundings with virtual counterparts. For example a desk might be substituted by a stone altar, a chair by a rock, etc. The Substitutional Environment is the resulting artificial Virtual Environment. This would allow users to participate in Virtual Reality experiences at home, as the assumption is that every object they see is mapped to a corresponding physical object, with a degree of mismatch.

The initial explorations of this area focused on the believability of interacting with mismatching physical objects while immersed in VR. The findings indicate that as long as these substitutive objects can be manipulated in a similar way, the process is still considered to be believable. For example, holding a torch but perceiving it in Virtual Reality as a sword.

However, the research showed that there are several possible directions. The two mains one are described in the following:

Open Challenges in Substitution Reality

The original work [1] explored alterations involving a set of different parameters such as size, shape, material, etc. The research will investigate a range of open challenges in the domain of Substitutional Reality, such as the substitution of the environment, of people, pets and related embodiment issues, redirected walking, and 3DUIs supporting the substitution process.

Real-Time Dynamic Substitution

Past research [1] has focused on manually authored Substitutional Environments that focused on a specific real-world environment. The goal is to develop a process, or set of processes, that can reconstruct the 3D representation of a physical environment and use it to create a new Virtual Environment. The research will investigate how to define abstract interactive experiences that are able to dynamically adapt to any physical location, without a prior knowledge.

Suggested reading:

  • Simeone, A.L., Velloso, E. and Gellersen, H., 2015, April. Substitutional reality: Using the physical environment to design virtual reality experiences. In Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 3307-3316). ACM.
  • Simeone, A.L., 2015, March. Substitutional Reality: Towards a research agenda. In IEEE 1st Workshop on Everyday Virtual Reality (WEVR), 2015 (pp.19-22). IEEE.
  • Simeone, A.L. and Velloso, E., 2015. Substitutional Reality: bringing virtual reality home. XRDS: Crossroads, The ACM Magazine for Students, 22(1), pp.24-29.

How to apply:

To apply or make an enquiry, please visit postgraduate research: Computing and Creative Technologies

Applications should use our standard application forms and follow the instructions given under the ‘Research Degrees’ heading on the following webpage: