School of Interactive Arts & Technology professor Wolfgang Stuerzlinger inducted to prestigious VR academy

April 05, 2023

Formed in 2022, the IEEE Visualization and Graphics Technical Community (VGTC) Virtual Reality Academy highlights the accomplishments of the leaders in the field of virtual reality (VR) and recognizes significant contributions to research in that field.

Earlier this month, the prestigious academy inducted seven new members including SIAT professor Wolfgang Stuerzlinger at a ceremony hosted in Shanghai on March 28th.

The academy induction recognizes Stuerzlinger’s extensive research in and significant contributions to the field of virtual reality.

“I feel very honoured to be inducted into the VR academy, joining an illustrious group of researchers and scientists,” says Stuerzlinger of the distinction. “I can only express my profound thanks to all those who have supported me in various ways.”

Stuerzlinger’s current research areas include human-computer interaction/user interfaces, VR, and augmented reality (AR), among others.

Figure from study showing three design variations of mixed viewpoint transition techniques.

He has published his research prolifically, including co-authoring two papers that were presented at the conference where the academy ceremony took place: “Designing Viewpoint Transition Techniques in Multiscale Virtual Environments” and “Measuring the Effect of Stereo Deficiencies on Peripersonal Space Pointing.”

Throughout his career, Stuerzlinger’s work has aimed at finding innovative solutions for real-world problems. Much of his current research explores developing better 3D interaction techniques for VR and AR to make these systems easier to use.

One such research venture investigates why users have reduced accuracy and are more error prone when pointing in 3D versus in 2D.

Stuerzlinger and his colleagues have published several papers exploring the issue and have found that the decreased user accuracy when pointing in 3D is due in part to what is known as the vergence-accommodation conflict (VAC) which occurs when a user’s brain receives mismatching cues between the apparent distance of a virtual 3D object and the focusing distance required for the eyes to focus on that object.

Stuerzlinger (left) and collaborators working on a research project targeting efficiencies for aircraft maintenance crews using a virtual 3D engine that ‘twins’ a real one.

His research in this area also explores solutions to this problem and considers how practitioners, designers, and engineers can minimize these discrepancies and increase pointing accuracy. In one study, they found that using a multifocal stereo display, rather than a single-focal display, had a positive effect on the 3D selection performance of users when pointing in VR with a virtual hand.

As the availability and popularity of VR increases, Stuerzlinger is interested in evolution of these systems towards AR (where a user can see layers of virtual content added to the real environment) and the challenges that come with that.

Going forward, he plans to continue helping people interact with data through user interface more effortlessly by working to make both VR and AR systems easier to use.

On his induction to the VR academy Stuerzlinger shared enthusiasm on the future of VR and his gratitude for his collaborators in the field.

“I hope that my service gives back a little to this very exciting field,” he shared. “I would also like to highlight particularly all those outstanding students, postdoctoral researchers, and collaborators that have worked with me: without you this would not have been possible!”