FreemoVR: virtual reality for animals

Virtual reality is gaining popularity. But who would have thought that experts from Austria would create a virtual reality system for animals! Despite some comical nature of the idea, the experiment has a rather serious scientific justification. It is designed to study brain activity, research methods of working areas of the brain, responsible for responding to changes in the environment during the movement. The data obtained will enable scientists to understand the principle of the brain’s work not only animals but also humans.

The system is called FreemoVR. It uses a projection of the image on several screens to recreate a photorealistic virtual environment. Thus, the animals are placed in a kind of virtual room. The movement of animals “sent” into virtual reality, is monitored with the help of 10 high-speed cameras.

The first guinea-pigs were drosophila and zebra fish. For them, scientists have located in a virtual environment of aliens from the game Space Invaders, with which the animals bravely “fought.” In addition, in the virtual environment, “portals” were created, passing through which a sharp change in the environment took place, creating the illusion of moving to another place.

According to the data received, all animals considered virtual reality surrounding the “real world”. Flies skirted virtual obstacles the same way as in real life, rodents were frightened of climbing to a greater height, and the rest of the animals reacted to the appearance of their virtual counterparts just like in living nature. The already mentioned zebra fish wanted to join the jamb of virtual fish of its kind.

In future experiments, scientists plan to study the reaction of animals to the appearance of an “avatar” of a virtual fauna representative. And it will change from caricature to photorealistic. In order to find the “border” at which the brain ceases to perceive the image as a picture and begins to think that this is a real object.

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