February 29, 2024

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UniSA Co-Develops VR Facial Recognition Tech

Our faces can unlock a smartphone, provide access to a secure building and speed up passport control at airports, verifying our identity for numerous purposes.

Now, an international team of researchers from Australia, New Zealand and India has taken facial recognition technology to the next level, using a person’s expression to manipulate objects in a virtual reality setting without the use of a handheld controller or touchpad.

In a world-first study led by University of Queensland researcher Dr Arindam Dey, human-computer interaction experts used neural processing techniques to capture a person’s smile, frown and clenched jaw and used each expression to trigger specific actions in virtual reality environments.

One of the researchers involved in the experiment, University of South Australia’s Professor Mark Billinghurst, says the system has been designed to recognise different facial expressions via an EEG headset. He noted that a smile was used to trigger the ‘move’ command; a frown for the ‘stop’ command and a clench for the ‘action’ command, in place of a handheld controller performing these actions. Essentially, the team is capturing common facial expressions such as anger, happiness and surprise and implementing them in a virtual reality environment.

The researchers designed three virtual environments – happy, neutral and scary – and measured each person’s cognitive and physiological state while they were immersed in each scenario. By reproducing three universal facial expressions – a smile, frown and a clench – they explored whether changes in the environment triggered one of the three expressions, based on emotional and physiological responses. For example, in the happy environment, users were tasked with moving through a park to catch butterflies with a net. The user moved when they smiled and stopped when they frowned.

In the neutral environment, participants were tasked with navigating a workshop to pick up items strewn throughout. The clenched jaw triggered an action – in this case picking up each object – while the start and stop movement commands were initiated with a smile and frown. The same facial expressions were employed in the scary environment, where participants navigated an underground base to shoot zombies.

“Overall, we expected the handheld controllers to perform better as they are a more intuitive method than facial expressions, however people reported feeling more immersed in the VR experiences controlled by facial expressions,” Prof Billinghurst said. He added that relying on facial expressions in a VR setting is hard work for the brain but gives users a more realistic experience.

In addition to providing a novel way to use VR, the technique will also allow people with disabilities – including amputees and those with motor neurone disease – to interact hands-free in VR, no longer needing to use controllers designed for fully-abled people.

Researchers say the technology may also be used to complement handheld controllers where facial expressions are a more natural form of interaction. The paper is titled ‘Effects of interacting with facial expressions and controllers in different virtual environments on presence, usability, effect and neurophysiological signals’ and the findings have been published in the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies.

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Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

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CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Well-known for our strengths in system integration and consultation, CTC Global proves to be the preferred IT outsourcing destination for organizations all over Singapore today.

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Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

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SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

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HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

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IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

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