Virtual Embodiment and Robotic Re-Embodiment (VERE)
Virtual Embodiment and Robotic Re-Embodiment
Start date: Jun 1, 2010,
End date: Dec 31, 2015
VERE aims to carry out research on the fusion of the human body with virtual or physical surrogates. By fuse we mean that human participants would operate under the illusion that the virtual body is their own, or that they are actually in the physical space of the real world in a robotic body that they perceive as their own. As well as providing a radical extension of traditional virtual reality through the notion of virtual body ownership, VERE would pioneer remote body ownership, that is where the participant stays in a reclining and immobile position but operates a virtual or physical remote body via a brain and body computer interface (BBCI). This BBCI uses real-time EEG and other physiological data to infer participant intentions, and exploits machine learning to drive the virtual or robotic body. Two exemplary applications would be developed during the research: one in the context of gender-based domestic violence and the other to give physically impaired people such as tetraplegics the ability to operate again in the physical world through their surrogate. Both applications will be with domain professionals. There would be up to two further applications during the course of the project, managed by external groups who would submit proposals to the VERE consortium to exploit the technology for other unforeseen applications. The proposal is organised as eight scientific workpackages underpinned by one on the science of body ownership led by a team of cognitive neuroscientists. The work is informed by consideration of its ethical implications, and provides a testing ground for experiments in neuroethics. Moreover the work clearly has implications for the notion of self and consciousness, and one WP will be devoted to these issues. The proposal has been formed by a highly interdisciplinary group. It also draws on earlier FET projects IMMERSENCE and PRESENCCIA but opens the door to a radically new form of human-computer confluence with beneficial applications.
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