IST hosts multinational NATO Information Systems Technology panel meetings
research in simulation, robot teams and human-machine interface received
international exposure at a recent NATO technology conference hosted at
Current research at IST, and in psychology and philosophy
departments and several engineering disciplines, is highly relevant to
this NATO group.
Recent NATO projects of interest to Orlando researchers
include organizational modeling, evolutionary software development and
multimedia display of huge quantities of data.
UCF Team Performance Laboratory director Dr. Florian Jentsch
is a member of a NATO task group studying issues of human trust and
confidence in automated systems including robots and IST deputy director
Dr. Brian Goldiez is a member of a similar group investigating issues of
complexity in large scale systems.
Haptics researcher Todd Lazarus
demonstrates a device used on the haptics testbed to provide the sense
of touch in a simulation.
Host for the three days of sessions was IST director Randall
Shumaker, who was for six years the U.S. national leader of the NATO
Information Systems Technology panel (initials coincidentally the same
as the UCF institute). He is currently a “member-at-large,” appointed for
his specific technical expertise and international recognition. Dr. Shumaker
also is a faculty member of the university’s School of Electrical
Engineering and Computer Science and Industrial Engineering and Management
Forty-five members of the panel met in UCF’s Partnership II
building in Central Florida Research Park near the university. The panel is
one of several composed of senior-level technical experts appointed by the
26 NATO member nations. Each country appoints up to three panel members—most
are from government agencies.
M&S Ph.D. student Dustin Chertoff
explains some of the new technology recently added to the VR team training
The panel is one of six high level technical groups under
NATO’s Research and Technology Organization (RTO), a central element of
NATO’s defense science and technology program. Since 1949 this program
has led international cooperation in promoting stability and security.
RTO conducts and promotes cooperative research and
information exchange to support the development and effective use of
national defense research and technology to meet NATO’s military needs (1)
to maintain a technological lead and (2) to provide advice to NATO decision
More in depth information about NATO technology initiatives
UCF researchers say virtual reality may reduce
conflicts among decision makers
You’ve witnessed the scenario dozens of times in films or on TV: a diverse
group of officials in a crisis situation battle with events—and with each
other. They usually bring a wide range of experience and expertise to the
table and the result, predictably, is a dramatic conflict of ideas and
solutions, with the wellbeing of life on Earth at stake.
It happens in real life, too, with consequences that don’t go
away at the end of the hour.
But there’s a neurological reason for these conflicts, say members of a
University of Central Florida research team. Faced with risky decisions,
researchers theorize, experts and amateurs often make conflicting choices
because their brains process the same information differently.
Glenn Harrison is a professor of
the College of Business Administration with a joint appointment at IST.
The team has
gained a $647,430 award from the National Science Foundation to find out how
decision making teams can be trained to work together better.
Led by economics professors Glenn Harrison and Elisabet
Rutström, psychologists Stephen Fiore, Shawn Burke and Eduardo Salas,
computer scientists Charles Hughes and Sumanta Pattanaik, biologist John
Weishampel, media artist Christopher Stapleton and others, researchers will
conduct experiments using virtual reality simulation at IST, where project investigators hold
joint faculty appointments. Also participating in this research is Paul Feltovich,
a scientist from the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition in
Pensacola Florida, and Neil Charness, a psychology professor from Florida
According to researchers, the study will lead to a better
understanding of how people make decisions in complex and uncertain
environments. An ability to explain the sources of differences in the
decisions reached by experts and non-experts could affect policy making
processes, jury selections, expert witness testimonies and other areas where
both experts and non-experts participate in decisions.
The complex and uncertain environment chosen for this
research is the need to arrive at a decision about using controlled burning
to prevent wild fires from destroying a forest. People who make
recommendations and arrive at decisions about such operations currently
review documents where scenarios are described in words and pictures.
Conclusions by experts such as forest management personnel and non-experts
(such as homeowners from nearby neighborhoods) using this review method can
vary widely. Researchers hypothesize that these differences in values and
decisions will be smaller when a scenario is presented as an interactive
virtual reality simulation.
The virtual reality environment for non-experts, say
researchers, can substitute for the mental simulations or shortcuts that
experts seem to be better able to perform due to their greater familiarity
with a subject. Furthermore, findings from this research may show how
similar technologies can be developed to support decision making and problem
solving in other complex and uncertain environments.
Space Coast history project hopes to preserve images of
Florida's launch complexes
Since its first missile launch in July of 1950, Florida's Cape Canaveral has
become synonymous with space travel. But, although the Cape has been a part
of every dramatic chapter in the nation's history of space travel, time has
not been kind to "on the ground" evidence of the U.S. space program.
It is for this reason project director Lori Walters founded
the Florida Space Coast History
Project to preserve the memory of Florida's
unique space and missile heritage. The project is part of a larger UCF
Virtual Heritage effort whose work to date will be on display at the
university's main library from June 1 to July 31.
Now an IST faculty researcher, Walters
is working with Eileen Smith, of IST's Media Convergence Laboratory, and
Michelle Adams of the UCF Department of
History to provide a comprehensive historical record of Florida's space
industry, including an MCL-constructed 3D virtual replica of the Cape
Canaveral of the 1950s and 1960s.
Digital model of Cape Canaveral's
Complex 14 gantry and Mercury-Atlas
Phase one of the project, Shadows of Canaveral, which
opened June 1 at the UCF Library, will take observers back to those
formative years of space flight. Shadows is an interactive 3D journey
back in time to February 20, 1962, the day astronaut John Glenn piloted the
Mercury-Atlas 6 "Friendship 7" spacecraft on the first U.S. manned orbital
mission. The library exhibit is open through July 31.
Phase two will take visitors further back in time to 1950 to
witness the first launch from the Cape, Bumper 8, and will include
pre-rocket history and a revisualization of the Cape Canaveral lighthouse
State of Florida Bureau of Historic Preservation grants
support both phases of the Space Coast History Project. See
www.capehistory.org for more
information and pictures.
IST honors student researchers for outstanding
The institute recently honored four of its exemplary students—two
undergraduate and two graduate—for their research accomplishments this past year.
Most students at IST work in paid internships on real-world contract-supported
projects. IST sponsors the awards annually to recognize research
Sherri Ann Rehfeld
Third-year computer science undergraduate student Brandon Haber helped develop an engine for
after action review
project in progress at IST.
New improvements in the AAR software allow the review leader
to move around more quickly in the timeline by eliminating the need to
process large amounts of data between steps in the review timeline. Skipping
ahead 20 minutes in an exercise now can take less than a second, compared to
roughly a minute before the enhancement. Brandon is a research assistant in
Interactive Realities Lab.
Heather Priest is a doctoral
candidate in applied experimental and human factors psychology. Her research
projects with IST's
Human Systems Integration Research group have contributed to our
team performance under stress, leadership intervention training,
evaluation of learning techniques and netcentric warfare. She has been an
integral part of the development and implementation of a number of empirical
Sherri Ann Rehfeld has been IST's
Team Performance Laboratory lead
researcher on human-robot interaction. Responsibilities have included
recruitment, selection and supervision of all undergraduate research
assistants. On her way to the Ph.D. she has successfully defended her
dissertation on interaction of spatial abilities and mental transformation.
Her data have become an integral part of research under the Army Research
Lab's multiple soldiers-multiple robots research program.
David Smith graduated in May with a bachelor's degree in computer science.
While working in the
Interactive Realities Lab at IST he concentrated on haptic (touch) interface research. His
contributions to the development of haptic event abstraction contributed to
this award recognition.
One of the challenges Smith took on was to categorize the kinds of haptic
"events" that could provide feedback to the user. "Haptics is a very broad
concept," he says, "but haptics hardware tends to serve very specific
purposes." This results in haptics-enabled applications that rely on a
specific hardware device for a certain kind of haptic feedback and are
difficult to extend to include new technology. Smith's work contributed to
the development of a library of haptic events and a method for mapping them
You can find out more about the research of these and other students and
scientists at IST at the appropriate labs hyperlinked above or by contacting
us via post, phone, or e-mail.
Media Convergence Lab goal: supercharged experiences to go
Suppose you could transform the drab walls of a room into a virtual landscape that placed you right in the middle of a training scenario.
At once your reality is altered from semi-detached participant on the safe side of a computer screen to
fully engaged player, immersed in the action. Now you are not just a spectator. You are surrounded by and a part of the action.
World-class theme parks for years have played this concept to millions of visitors, transforming two-dimensional cinema entertainment
into immersive—and sometimes interactive—ride-through adventures. Innovators in the Media Conversion Laboratory at IST are
pushing the technology one step further in their quest to merge entertainment with learning.
Much of MCL’s research focuses on intensifying engagement to supercharge experience. The lab and other investigators at IST have built
a growing body of research that confirms the value of engagement in "creating lasting memories"—a key to learning retention,
according to MCL research associate Eileen Smith. The greater your engagement—the more you’re
into—an activity, the more likely the experience will produce lasting memories.
MCL’s goal is to heighten engagement by eliminating the boundaries of the computer screen. The lab’s
challenge: to create portable environments that train, educate and entertain by simulating actual experience.
The lab’s term for the products of this challenge, "Human Experience Modeler," covers a
variety of prototype systems that mix computer graphics with real-time images. These "mixed reality" systems use
head-mounted displays that provide video camera vision of the real world blended with computer-generated graphics. Position
tracking of the head-mounted display and precise mapping of real-world objects are critical if accurate mixing of real and
computer images is required.
MCL has demonstrated prototypes for mixed reality urban combat training, fantasy games, movie
trailers, museum exhibits and medical rehabilitation. Current efforts are to use the technology to create more portable
environments, convenient to transport to and set up, whether for on-the-spot training, marketing or
Face study shows simple shapes, sizes and colors
can influence ‘personality’ perception
Which of these faces seems more aggressive, animate, friendly, intelligent or trustworthy?
A recent joint study conducted by UCF psychologists and robotics researchers showed that size does make a
difference in what attributes we assign to abstract “faces.” So does shape, color, relative size texture
and feature placement.
The faces shown here are only a small sample of the many variations used in the study. Among the categories
were eye size, pupil size and shape, eye color and feature shape.
In the eye size category, for example (center boxes), people rated large round eyes as more aggressive
than small or square eyes.
Research was sponsored by the Army Research Development and Engineering Command. The UCF Collaboration for
Advanced Research on Agents & Teams directed by IST and the Applied Cognition and Technology program
coordinated by psychology associate professor Valerie Sims.
Download the pdf version
Links to other stories
IST releases VESS 4.1.0
The Virtual Environment Software Sandbox(TM) is a suite of libraries based on years of virtual
environment research. Version 4.1.0 adds support for the PhaseSpace Motion Digitizer, native support
for all Intersense motion tracking devices, a new "first person shooter" like motion model, a particle
system class, and the OpenGL shading language.
(Download a copy)
Ultra wide band sensor research to continue
Research on UWB sensors moves to phase 2 with follow-on funding from
Office of Naval Research.
See story in the Winter 06 newsletter
to the pdf on the projects page
Florida Dept. of Transportation
support for commercial driver certification study
"Virtual Check Ride" research continues with Raydon simulator assistance and FDOT grant for $185K.
See original story in the Summer 05 newsletter