ISMAR 2024 Tutorial: Participating in the Testing of VERA


The Virtual Experience Research Accelerator (VERA) is currently undergoing development, but by ISMAR 2024 we expect to have an early version of the system available for the running of real or realistic user studies, for the purpose of testing the VERA systems and procedures. On 21 OCT 2024 we will conduct an ISMAR 2024 tutorial to introduce attendees to the requirements and procedures for getting involved in such testing, what we expect in terms of tester effort, and what we expect in terms of test system functionality.


When carrying out traditional laboratory-based human subjects research for XR, researchers are inherently constrained to relatively slow data collection with relatively small and demographically narrow “convenience” samples of the population. With VERA, researchers will have the opportunity to push their study out to a standing participant pool and gain human subjects data from a relatively large population, with controlled demographics, in a relatively short time. VERA seeks to provide the XR researcher community with a one-of-a-kind tool that will support more sophisticated, robust, and impactful XR research, benefiting the field of XR and society as a whole.

This tutorial will offer attendees the opportunity to learn about how to get involved with a form of system-level testing of VERA, where the goal is to run complete studies. For such testing, VERA will cover the participant costs in exchange for committed engagement in the testing process. We anticipate that this will be a net-positive experience for the testers — they will get the free use of VERA in exchange for some labor. They will also be helping to develop a resource that will eventually be available to all XR researchers, i.e. a chance to “do good” for the XR research community.


Director of Development and Operations, VERA
University of Central Florida

Greg WELCH, Ph.D.
Pegasus Professor and AdventHealth Endowed Chair in Simulation
University of Central Florida


Gerd BRUDER, Ph.D.
Research Associate Professor
University of Central Florida

Director of Development & Operations, VERA
University of Central Florida

John MURRAY, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Games and Interactive Media
University of Central Florida

Tabitha PECK, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Davidson College

Greg WELCH, Ph.D.
Pegasus Professor and AdventHealth Endowed Chair in Simulation
University of Central Florida

Agenda (Tentative)

1. Introduction (30 Minutes)

  • Motivation
    • Discuss the limitations of traditional lab-based studies in XR research, such as small, homogenous sample sizes and logistical challenges.
    • Explain how VERA addresses some of these limitations by providing access to a large, diverse participant pool for remote XR experiments.
    • Highlight the potential impact of VERA on advancing XR research and fostering innovation in the field.
  • Infrastructure Overview
    • Provide context on NSF Infrastructure Grant
    • Provide an overview of the VERA platform, including its architecture and key components.
    • Discuss the technology stack used to build VERA, such as the VERA App, API, frontend, Unity plugin, and database.
    • Highlight the capabilities of each component and how they contribute to the overall functionality of VERA.

2. A Tour of VERA (30 Minutes)

  • Users and Community
    • Introduce the various user roles within the VERA ecosystem, including researchers, participants, and administrators.
    • Discuss the importance of community engagement and mentorship within the VERA community.
    • Highlight how users can collaborate within VERA.
  • Software and Processes
    • Discuss the user permissions models within VERA, including access levels for researchers (e.g., faculty and students), individuals in the VERA participant pool, and VERA administrators.
    • Provide guidance on navigating IRB approvals and institutional agreements when using VERA for research.
    • Walk through the processes involved in conducting a study using VERA, from study creation to participant recruitment and data collection.

3. Testing VERA (2.5 hours, with breaks)

  • Overview of the Roles, Resources, and Responsibilities
    • Discussion of testing in teams — teams (as opposed to lone individuals) are encouraged, with a faculty lead investigator.
    • Overview of researchers vs.participant workflows.
    • Overview of the specific resources available to researchers and participants.
    • Review of the potential benefits to the researchers participating in the testing.
    • Review of the expectations for the engagement and efforts of researchers participating in the testing.
  • Permissions and IRB Processes
    • Provide detailed guidance on obtaining permissions for researchers, students, and lab managers to access VERA resources.
    • Discuss best practices for ensuring compliance with IRB regulations when conducting research using VERA, including data privacy and participant consent.
    • Explain the steps involved in establishing institutional agreements with VERA.
  • Example Experiment Working Session
    • Work through multiple examples of studies being run through VERA
    • Expose known risks and / or unexpected workflow pathways
    • Address best practices
    • Provide examples for attendees to work through themselves. (We will attempt to assemble a volunteer group of remote participants for this purpose, or simulate the same.)
  • Catered Assistance, Questions, Feedback
    • Offer personalized assistance to tutorial attendees, addressing any questions or concerns they may have about using VERA for their research projects.
    • Solicit feedback from attendees about VERA and any suggestions for improving the platform.
    • Provide resources for ongoing support and community engagement, such as user forums, documentation, and tutorials.


02 JUL 2024
VERA administrator email address

This material is based upon work supported primarily by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number 2235066.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.