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PhD Research

My PhD entitled “Exploring Mixed Reality in Distributed Collaborative Learning Environments“ focused on possible interactions within a mixed reality distributed environment, with the aim to provide a platform to enable numerous real and virtual intelligent environments (across the world) to be connected together; changing perception of environments/spaces from one-dimensional (physical) to multi-dimensional (physical and virtual); and extending human capabilities into a computer-generated spaces able to reflect information in real time.

My PhD research was part of the Scale Up project, a research collaboration between the University of Essex (UK) and King Abdul-Aziz University (KSA) which aimed to scale-up existing technology in intelligent inhabited environments from smaller facilities to a complete campus with multi-story large footprint buildings; towards the goal of developing large scale real-world Intelligent Environments.

Within the Scale up project, this research was related to mixed-reality lifestyles and human-computer interaction (HCI), and investigated how to use mixed-reality (MR) and immersive technologies to create large-scale collaborative environments. The research investigated the following main issues:

  1. The creation of a computational model for sharing a mix of real/virtual objects within a scaled-up interconnection of immersive environments.
  2. The definition of a distributed model (both technical and pedagogical) of physical and virtual objects to support methodologies for collaboration in mixed reality distributed environments; scaling up dual reality from single users to multiple users in collaborative activities.

As part of the research, I published 1 patent, 9 conference publications, (lead author) and was awarded Best Technical Video at the 2014 IEEE Intelligent Environments conference.

The thesis reported on evaluations performed with students from eight different universities in six countries, namely China, Malaysia, Mexico, UAE, USA and UK; providing an important insight to the role of social interactions in distance learning, and demonstrating that the inclusion of a physical component made a positive difference to students’ learning experience, supporting the use of mixed reality objects in educational activities. 

This thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science by the University of Essex, was defended on 15th January, 2016. I was co-supervised by Prof. Vic Callaghan and Dr. Michael Gardner. 

Additionally, my PhD Thesis abstract selected for publication at the IEEE Intelligent Informatics Bulletin (August 2017 issue). This research was also mentioned by the media here, here and here.

© Anasol Pena-Rios 2017.