media release

Media Advisory: Experience psychokinetic abilities, psychosis, anorexia and more at SFU virtual-reality showcase

December 08, 2016

Bernhard Riecke, professor, SFU’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology, 778.782.8432,
Allen Tung, University Communications, 778.782.3608,

Photos: (file photos) 
Backgrounder: (project summaries)

Virtual reality won’t be just fun and games at Simon Fraser University when students from the School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT) showcase their term projects this Friday, Dec. 9, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at SFU’s Surrey campus.

Put yourself in the shoes of Eleven from the Netflix series Stranger Things and experience what it’s like to have psychokinetic abilities. As well, discover what it’s like to live with psychosis or anorexia, or be a bystander attending a child that has suddenly fallen unconscious in a crowded shopping mall.

This semester’s IAT 445 Immersive Environments course, taught by SIAT professor Bernhard Riecke, challenged students to design an immersive and interactive virtual environment that evoked empathy in a meaningful way.

What makes these projects immersive is they are designed to activate not only our senses but also our imagination, so the user feels as if they have been transported from the physical to the virtual world.

In total, ten student projects will be showcased using an Oculus Rift head-mounted display. Among them:

  • Further Testing – experience the feeling of having psychokinetic abilities that take a clear physical toll on health when used
  • Parallel Minds – experience what it truly feels to suffer from psychosis in this chilling experience based on a real case of the disorder
  • 151 Calories – discover another side of anorexia as, through a lifestyle change, you experience an anorexia patient’s world
  • Zero Hour – a child has suddenly fallen ill in a crowded shopping mall and it’s a race to keep him alive until an ambulance arrives
  • REEF – experience the world beneath the waves, and discover the endless marine life and amazing breathtaking colours of the Great Barrier Reef.

All projects will have a video feed available. As well, students will be on-site to explain their vision and inspiration for their project. 


Virtual reality—the ultimate empathy machine?


Friday, December 9, 2016
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.


SFU’s Surrey Campus
WestStone Group Grand Hall (mezzanine)
250-13450 102 Avenue
Surrey, BC V3T 0A3



As Canada's engaged university, SFU is defined by its dynamic integration of innovative education, cutting-edge research and far-reaching community engagement. SFU was founded more than 50 years ago with a mission to be a different kind of university—to bring an interdisciplinary approach to learning, embrace bold initiatives, and engage with communities near and far. Today, SFU is Canada’s leading comprehensive research university and is ranked one of the top universities in the world. With campuses in British Columbia’s three largest cities – Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey – SFU has eight faculties, delivers almost 150 programs to over 35,000 students, and boasts more than 145,000 alumni in 130 countries around the world.


Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities.

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