Virtual Experience Research Accelerator (VERA)
Supported by five collaborative grants from the National Science Foundation, the Virtual Experience Research Accelerator (VERA) project will develop and operate CISE community research infrastructure in the form of a human-machine system for carrying out human subjects research related to extended reality (XR), including Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.
[23 MAY 2023] Lehigh University news story.
[03 MAY 2023] Cornell Tech post on LinkedIn.
[27 APR 2023] Davidson College "NSF Grant Opens Doors to Extended Reality Research."
[25 APR 2023] NSF announcement and UCF story "UCF Leads Development of First Large-scale System for Extended Reality Research".
[Preliminary] To serve the community of XR researchers by providing tools to accelerate and improve the quality of their research, building and sustaining a diverse and inclusive collaborative community of XR researchers, and fostering the next generation of XR researchers.
- Greg WELCH (Lead), University of Central Florida
- Shiri AZENKOT, Cornell Tech
- Jeremy BAILENSON, Stanford University
- Gerd BRUDER, University of Central Florida
- Tabitha PECK, Davidson College
- Valerie Jones TAYLOR, Lehigh University
- Jonathan BEEVER (Ethics and Privacy), University of Central Florida
- Nicholas Alvaro COLES (Big Team Science, Director PSA), Stanford University
- Carolina Cruz-NEIRA (Partnerships, Sustainability), University of Central Florida
- John MURRAY (Systems, Sustainability), University of Central Florida
- Rui XIE (Statistics and Data Science), University of Central Florida
Other Collaborators & Support
- Ryan SCHUBERT, Special Projects Coordinator, University of Central Florida
- Natasha MIGUELEZ, Administrative Assistant to Prof. Greg Welch, University of Central Florida
Researchers conducting lab-based human subject research in XR (Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality) typically find themselves working very hard, over considerable time, to run studies that end up producing very narrow findings for a limited population. With extensive interactions with the XR community, the Virtual Experience Research Accelerator (VERA) project will develop a transformative new CISE community research infrastructure in the form of a human-machine system (hardware, software, and people) that combines and extends aspects of distributed lab-based studies, online studies, research panels, and crowdsourcing, into a unified system for carrying out XR-based research. VERA was designed with and for the XR community to tackle this field’s research needs, supplying the demand for big data from diverse subjects at high scalability. The system will enable researchers to conduct XR user studies online, concurrently across a very large, carefully curated, diverse, dedicated standing pool of XR study participants. Access to the infrastructure will fundamentally change the way XR researchers develop and conduct research, enabling them to break free from the intractability of the lab-based study paradigm, and to dramatically accelerate the quality and quantity of new knowledge. Access will also increase equity by providing opportunities for XR researchers (including students) from all parts of the nation to do high-impact research even if they do not have access to XR labs and equipment at their local university. It will enable innovative research with large and diverse participant samples, longitudinal and replication studies, as well as large diverse data set generation for machine learning and other purposes. As part of this effort, the VERA team will implement and publish mechanisms to make studies more accessible and inclusive.
The project includes a significant community-engaged approach to development of the platform through strategic partnerships with industry and community-based organizations who will help in building the platform and disseminating the work throughout the XR community. The infrastructure will provide a transformational tool for XR researchers by leveraging the large and rapidly growing base of XR systems in the homes of the general public, and the abilities of the owners to use them. With consent from these users, VERA will enable CISE researchers to conduct very high-quality studies very quickly. VERA is also designed to tackle this field’s research agenda, supplying the demand for big data from diverse human subjects at high scalability. It will enable innovative research with large and diverse participant samples, longitudinal and replication studies, as well as large diverse data set generation for AI, machine learning and other purposes.
Public Planning Activities (2021–2022)
17 MAY 2023