Project of an IKBFU Researcher Wins a Contest of the Advanced Research Foundation

16 April 2018
The Advanced Research Foundation and the Ministry of Education and Science of Russia have selected the best projects aimed at developing special and dual-use application technologies. The project of Natalia Shuhsarina, an IKBFU researcher "Development of a hybrid brain-computer interface for controlling avatars in virtual reality" was among the best.

Natalia Shusharina, a researcher, Deputy Director of the Institute of Living Systems (IKBFU):

Hybrid brain-computer interface of a non-invasive type, which is designed to create a system for recording user movements and organising its interaction with virtual reality, will be presented. The most difficult thing in the avatar management is the registration of the action of skeletal muscles' potentials. With a certain placement of the electrodes, it is possible to record the electrical activity of individual muscle groups, obtaining information that allows us to restore the spatial position of each part of the user's body. The concept of a hybrid interface implies the use of several biosignals to improve recognition accuracy. BALALAIKA, the device developed in the IKBFU and used for recording the physiological parameters of a person, will be used as a hardware of the hybrid brain-computer interface. To create a system for registering user movements, a software package based on machine learning algorithms will be developed, which will process electrophysiological signals and calculate the position of individual parts of the user's body.

A key feature that determines the quality of virtual reality is the user's degree of immersion. The substitution of visual, audio, tactile and other human sensory channels is an important part in ensuring the depth of immersion. However, tracking systems, which form a virtual avatar and project the movements and poses of the user on it, is principally crucial for realism. Today, various methods of interaction between the user and the virtual world are used to create virtual reality. They can be divided into active (the user directly transfers information or commands to the virtual reality system), and passive (the definition of the user movements and position are initiated by the computer). Active methods involve voice control, as well as specialized controllers, joysticks, keyboards or gamepads. Passive methods involve optical marker and markerless tracking, as well as mechanical, inertial, magnetic, ultrasonic, and fibre-optic recording systems. Both methods meet conflicting requirements. A specific set of requirements for interaction methods will depend on the scope and tasks, which are to be solved with virtual reality technology. Obviously, there is no flexible way that would satisfy all possible needs, so the solution will always be a compromise. For this reason, several methods of obtaining information are used in combination. The use of a fundamentally new method for obtaining data will improve the quality of virtual reality.

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