Spring 2021 - IAT 848 G100

Mediated, Virtual, and Augmented Reality (3)

Class Number: 7332

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 4:30 PM – 7:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    IAT 806 and one of IAT 801 or 802 or 803 or 834 or permission of the instructor.



Covers the emerging field of virtual, augmented, mediated, and mixed reality from human-centered, research, technical, and ethical perspectives. Discusses and analyzes design, development, usage, and evaluation of technologies that can be used to mediate human experience and interaction with virtual and real environments including Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Realities (together known as XR). Investigates how these emerging technologies can affect and augment human perceptual, motor, cognitive and socio-emotional processes. Analyzes human-centered approaches to interaction with 3D real and virtual content, using visual, auditory, haptic, kinesthetic, physiological and neurophysiological modalities. Design guidelines and practices are covered throughout. Considers aesthetic, cultural and ethical implications of mediating reality.


As this field is rapidly evolving topics covered will evolve over time. Current topics include but are not limited to:

  • Introduction into mediated, virtual and augmented realities (referred to broadly as XR):
    • Overview, Background and Motivation
    • Definitions
    • History and development
    • Different kinds of alternate realities
    • Presence, immersion, and reference frames
  • Overview of technologies
    • Hardware, software, interfaces,
    • How to move through alternate realities
    • How to interact with alternate realities
  • Designing for human capabilities:
    • Perceptual, cognitive, sensorial & physiological modalities
    • The human in multiple realities
  • What can go wrong: Adverse side effects
    • From motion sickness to disorientation, strain, usability, and practical challenges
    • Design guidelines
  • Closing the action-perception loop: Interaction and feedback
    • The human in the loop
    • Input, output, and what happens in between
    • Interaction paradigms
  • How to design alternate realities and MR/VR/AR (XR) content
    • Principles for designing for alternate realities
    • Determining context: e.g., training, learning, exploring, gaming, storytelling/narratives, socially interacting (synchronously & asynchronously), visualizing data & sensemaking
    • Iterative design and evaluation
      • Co-creating with Participants, Stakeholders, Communities
      • Intertwining technology, aesthetics (look & feel) & interaction
      • Assessing content & context: accounting for use scenarios in specific contexts; siting: access, sustainability/longitudinal use, fit with institutional, social contexts, needs & expectations; accounting for longitudinal use: upgrades, technical support; evolution of use
    • Innovation, entrepreneurial considerations
    • User interface guidelines for alternate realities
    • User studies in alternate realities
  • Implications, potentials and challenges in designing alternate realities
    • Scientific, health, and technological aspects
    • What should or should we not design? Social, societal, cultural, and ethical perspectives
    • Artistic, aesthetic & narrative perspectives
  • Responsibility, ethics, and the future of alternate realities
Current research topics and challenges as well as design guidelines and practices will be covered throughout the course and above topics.

The course is set to be remote but synchronous with online live discussions/presentations at a specific day and time. 

Note during COVID lockdown - the course will be remote and Head-Mounted Displays and other controllers are more limited (including significant library access procedures) and surely can not be shared between team or class members. Also, we will not have access to a high-end computer lab - so you will need to use your own computers ( laptop or desktops) which typically need to have the specs to run Unity3D and other VR/gaming software.


After successfully completing the course, students should be able to do the following:

● Critically engage with, reflect, discuss, and analyze interactive VR/MR/AR (abbreviated as XR) experiences using and applying relevant scholarly frameworks, theories, and concepts
● Explain, evaluate, discuss current challenges of XR on the technical, ethical, perceptual, and user experience level
● Prepare a XR research proposal and evaluate its feasibility, including a clear motivation and argument for the gap in literature and current state of the art and and argument for its contribution
● Design and create a real-time immersive/XR experience that identifies the context of participants and stakeholders, and takes advantage of the potential of the technology. This includes being able to argue convincingly why it makes sense to use the chosen technology and its potential integration in larger systems.
● Being able to design, run, analyze and present user studies/evaluation/research of XR system/user experience/performance


  • Assignments / Quizzes 30%
  • Participation 10%
  • Projects 40%
  • Short Research Paper 20%


● Basic programming skills, as documented through IAT806 or equivalent demonstration or documentation of basic programming competency (or instructor permission).
● Basic research methods skills, as documented through having taking a graduate research methods course (e.g., IAT 801, 802, 803, 834).

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/current/important_dates/guidelines.html. The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).