Two of my collaborators from Sydney Uni have joined me for the trip to Adelaide today – Prof. Philip Poronnik (Biomedical Sciences) and 2nd year medical student, Rosie Menzies. Philip and Rosie have never been to Body In Mind (BIM), at the Sansom Institute UniSA, where my other collaborating scientists are based, so they have flown over to check out their lab. Until now, much of our communication has been over emails and Skype. So it was a great occasion to get together in person to further discuss our project after seeing BIM’s equipment. Dr. Tasha Stanton (postdoctoral research fellow, Pain Science) from BIM had already seen what USYD can offer when she came for a visit a few months ago, so it was now USYD team’s turn to check out BIM’s assets.
First, they were in for a real treat. They were invited to try the ever so mind boggling ‘Disappearing Hand Trick’ which uses the Mirage multisensory illusions box, developed by Associate Professor Roger Newport from University of Nottingham. As the professor aptly puts it, the purpose of the Mirage is to investigate “how the brain perceives and controls our body. Normal goal-directed action and the perception of our body requires that the brain can put together information about vision, touch and proprioception (body position sense) in a fast, accurate and efficient manner. Such multisensory integration can be disrupted by brain damage or by experimentally manipulating the senses in healthy individuals.”
The ‘Disappearing Hand Trick’ manipulates the visuospatial perception of the user.
After hanging out at BIM’s playground in the morning, Prof. Lorimer Moseley (Clinical Neurosciences and Chair in Physiotherapy) took us to have a lovely lunch and to continue brainstorming about our VR project. Super excitement, inspiration, exchange of new ideas and skills were on the menu. I was also very pleased to be able to provide a connection between the BIM and USYD scientists. And Phil made sure we were very well fed with the finest Adelaide cuisine.
One of the most exciting discussions we had was about how the Mirage box could be incorporated into my upcoming exhibition at the UNSW gallery next year. Phil also expressed an interest in building one for Sydney Uni as an educational tool for his students as well. Tasha is going to consult Prof. Newport about designing a modified version with easier construction and transportation in mind, since the exhibition will be travelling around regional NSW after the UNSW show. What an exciting development it is! The wonders of the Mirage box will soon be able to be experienced not only by both academic institutions, but also by the general public in an artistic context.
Then we came back to BIM lab after lunch for more fun.
Progressing further with our VR project, Rosie and Stuart Esdaile (IdeaLab, USYD), our programmers for the project, have asked to purchase these realistic 3D hand models to be incorporated into the VR. After much research, we’ve decided to go with these two. Please click on the links below if you’d like to have a look.
I look forward to seeing what they come up with after playing around with these hands.