Dr Tom Garner
I am Senior Lecturer in Immersive Technologies within the School of Creative Technologies. Having a scientific background and having worked in the School for a few years, I became the Course Leader for BSc (Hons) Virtual and Augmented Reality.
After graduating from a practice-based BA (Hons) Popular Music and Recording course, I studied an MA in Music Composition for Interactive Media, both at the University of Salford. The Masters studies sparked my interest in technological advances, particularly those that provide immersive experiences. This led me to look at 'audio perception' that explored how humans interact with sound. My research into psycho-acoustic principles and behaviour in VR were the focus for my PhD in Psychology at Aalborg University, Denmark.
One of the things I enjoy the most at the University is how many industry-connected projects provide students with opportunities I never got as a student. This, alongside the networking possibilities at Portsmouth, convinced me to come and teach here. There is a great balance between applied science and its impact on real life and researching new knowledge.
I am also passionate about making games as a hobby. My longest-running project is a life management simulator, Social Currency.
My area of research is in Extended Reality (XR), which is Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR), for the purposes of education and skills training. These areas have practical use in the real world and through the use of motion capture and VR, researchers can emulate how humans react in a real-world environment by looking at their behaviour in a VR experience.
My research seeks to understand the current hurdles in VR creation and development by filling in the gaps of the existing knowledge as new prototypes are tested. I want to help the wider public to use new technology well and in context with the appropriate information.
Some of the functional applications of my research include working with the military and in medicine. Also, since becoming a lecturer and exploring ways to integrate the technology in higher education, I have worked with radiology at the University’s Dental Academy and the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, exploring different ways we can learn in these environments.
Simulators have been created for enterprise training as part of the work, and the companies developing this technology want to work with higher education. One example of this is the ‘Audience of the Future’ project where MagicLeap provide the hardware such as VR headsets, XYZreality make AR hardware, and nDreams collaborate to provide the software. Undergraduates are assigned client-based group projects in their second year of studies when they can maximise their usage of the technology available.