Extended Panel Descriptions
Environments for Healing
Can our brave new worlds make us well?
What does it mean to be healed, in the sense of whole and wholly
loving, human beings? How can we use virtual selves, relationships and spaces to heal
ourselves -- body, mind and soul? Who are the pioneers of cyberspace healing, and how can
they help return us to wholeness? This panel looks at cyberspace as healing place, avatar
as anima, virtual reality as healing art. For in its deepest promise and most profound
practice, virtual reality -- as both healing modality and healing art form -- is a
transformative technology with extraordinary power to make and keep us well. We become
what we behold; in beholding ourselves as healed, virtual selves, we can become the selves
of our deepest and most healing dreams. Could healing be the "killer
application" of our digital future -- not because it kills, but because it heals?
Anthony Lloyd of BioControl, whose BioMuse VR biocontroller lets your
"body electric" control computers with your eyes, play games with your cheeks,
and make music with your heartbeat.
Carrie Heeter, whose research in telepresence and telerelationships
examines the healing benefits of creating and maintaining social relationships in
Tom Riess, who, stricken with crippling Parkinson's disease, devised
augmented reality glasses to help himself and others walk again.
Tamiko Thiel, artist/engineer, creative director of Starbright World, and
designer of sensuous thinking machines for adults and online avatar playspaces for
seriously ill children.
Galen R. Brandt (panel coordinator), writer and VR performer, who, in
taking Tiny Dancing lessons in cyberspace, learned that big hope from Tiny Dancing grows.
THE HEALING POSSIBILITIES OF NETWORKED VR PLAYSPACES
Throughout our lives, we continually redefine ourselves and when possible, our
environment. Chronic illnesses can inhibit this process, but artists like Toulouse-Lautrec
and Frida Kahlo transcended their illnesses by creating and inhabiting fantasy worlds,
developing themselves in ways they were denied in real life. Participatory virtual reality
worlds that let people build the environment and community they inhabit, as well as
experiment with other selves as avatars, can bring this experience to a wide range of
people. These spaces can provide the healing benefits of immersive, creative play,
self-expression, and communication with others in a shared context.
USING YOUR "BODY ELECTRIC" FOR VIRTUAL CONTROL AND HEALING
Now we can use the electrical energy of our human nervous system to communicate, control
and heal, empowering even the traumatically disabled to get in touch with their "body
electric." The BioMuse is a revolutionary "biocontroller" which converts
electrical biosignals from muscle contractions, eye movement, heartbeat and even
brainwaves into realtime electronic commands, allowing low-cost, hands-free virtual
control of devices ranging from computer cursors to radio-controlled airplanes and
motorized wheelchairs. Also a biosignal-to-MIDI converter, the BioMuse can turn even
severely impaired humans into living MIDI controllers who can play music.
BioControl Vice President Anthony Lloyd will demonstrate this natural and healing
interface that lets you control computers with your eyes, play games with your cheeks, and
make music with your heartbeat.
TELERELATING IN CYBERSPACE: RESEARCH AND PRACTICE
Cyberspace can emerge as a medium for sustaining social relationships: kin-keeping,
caring, friendship, and support. Already we see online mourning of the dead, online family
photo albums, photochat sessions, and webtalk study groups. Heeter lives in San Francisco,
runs the Michigan State University Communication Technology Laboratory remotely and
directs a team of 20 others in East Lansing developing Virtual University courses. Her
talk will focus on: examples of telereleating today; gender differences in telerelating;
Heeter's experiments as a virtual boss, teacher and friend; and a wish list of new
personal appliances and software for maintaining and enhancing close personal
AUGMENTED REALITY, VISUAL CUES AND PARKINSON'S DISEASE
Gait abnormalities seen in Parkinson's Disease such as akinesia (frozen movement) and
dyskinesia (jerky, uncontrolled movement) are extremely debilitating and result in much of
the morbidity (38% fall, 13% more than once a week) and social isolation associated with
this disease. "Kinesia paradoxa" (paradoxical movement) is a well-documented
phenomenon whereby in the presence of so called "visual cues," Parkinsonian
subjects can overcome akinesia and related gait problems. Visual cues which are effective
in evoking this response usually consist of an array of regularly-spaced objects, such as
stairs or evenly-spaced floor tiles, which the subject steps over. My talk is about the
development of a therapeutic device, augmented reality glasses, which evoke the same
response by generating on demand the virtual equivalent of visual cues without impairing
the subject's ability to see the real world. This new technology is being developed by
combining the emerging technologies of virtual reality, high-intensity micro L.E.D..'s and
chip circuitry in order to generate this imagery and project it onto a transparent screen
contained within eyewear. This eyewear must meet requirements of space, portability,
social acceptability and hands-free controls. I have devised and tested several prototype
versions on myself and fellow Parkinson's subjects with very encouraging results, and will
demonstrate this therapeutic device.
GALEN R. BRANDT
TINY DANCING LESSONS IN CYBERSPACE
For the last six years, I have performed as Tiny Dancer (and Spline Creature and a
shape-shifting flower called VoiceDancer, and....) in VIDEOPLACE, the
"computer-controlled responsive environments" of artificial reality pioneer
Myron Krueger. As I move in front of a brightly lit backdrop, a video camera captures my
image as distinguished from that backdrop, and Krueger's "responsive machines"
turn me into a virtual Tiny Dancer projected on a video screen. A second camera watches
Krueger's hands on a lit desktop (his VIDEODESK) and projects them, enormous, onto the
same screen. Suddenly, I can float and fly, a virtual Tinkerbell -- then land, ever so
gracefully, in the palm of Krueger's virtual hand. For those moments, I become the Tiny
Dancer I have secretly seen and known myself to be, transfixed by a transcendent new
relationship with myself and with those hands. I lose my recent memory of my body's
limitations, and refind my deeper memory of its limitless power -- I become a body of
knowledge that knows itself as infinitely self-transforming. Here is what my Tiny Dancing
lessons have taught me: We and the world are not fact, but vision. To change the way you
see and experience yourself is to change yourself, down to your neurons. Big hope from
Tiny Dancing grows. And the longest, most important healing journey may well begin with
tiny, dancing steps in cyberspace.
Franz Buchenberger, The
Business Value of 3D Communities
Applications: online consulting, e-commerce, distance
product trainings, entertainment
Customer Benefits: customer loyalty, direct marketing, direct sales,
team learning, communication
User Benefits: personal involvement, communication,
Market Evolution: techies, early adopters, early mainstream
Stage 1: bandwidth, client processing, stable software, content creation
cost and skills
Stage 2: compelling applications, scaleable architectures, social
Stage 3: integration, maintenance, extension of applications
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