Wednesday 20 November – Lunchtime Seminar with Dr Lyuba Alboul (Senior Research Fellow) and Dr Louis Nisiotis (Senior Lecturer)

Title: Fusing Virtual Reality, Robotics and Social Networking Technologies: Towards a New Type of Cyber-Physical-Community-based Eco-System.
Speakers: Dr Lyuba Alboul (Senior Research Fellow at Sheffield Hallam University) and Dr Louis Nisiotis (Senior Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University)

This project aims at developing a new type of Cyber-Physical-Social Eco-System (CPSeS) that would merge the real (physical) with virtual worlds interactively using Virtual Reality, Robots and Social Networking technologies, engendered by humans and their social behaviour.

The proposed system aspires to go beyond current augmented and virtual reality environments experience, by merging the physical with the virtual world using cutting edge robotics technology for actuating and guiding purposes, immersive technologies, and integrating social input between visitors in the real and virtual worlds. To demonstrate the attributes of the proposed system, we present the Virtual Museum case study.

The project seeks to develop new methods of engaging the current generation of museum and archaeological sites visitors. In addition to interweaving real and virtual spaces, the project aims at creating a virtual bridge between ancient and modern history and envisions a system that connects visitors to events and/or objects separated either in time or in space or both, providing meeting points between them through a range of media and mediums.

In this presentation Dr Alboul and Dr Nisiotis will visit the Virtual Museum of the Robotics (RoboSHU) prototype, which is currently being developed as a part of their pilot study. The RoboSHU comprises Robotic agents and their corresponding virtual avatars that link the physical with the virtual world and future work is on its way to implement more agents, social networking technology to connect visitors and robots in social spaces and provide additional novel functionalities.


Dr Lyuba Alboul is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Automation and Robotics Research (CARR), Materials and Engineering Research Institute (MERI). CARR is also a part of Sheffield Robotics.

Lyuba’s research involves the interplay of discrete and continuous representation of reality, perception and interaction with real and virtual worlds, by both humans and machines. Lyuba has been involved in a number of research projects as a primary investigator. In 2007-2010, she has been co-investigator of the EU funded projects, GUARDIANS and View-Finder, where she has conducted research on 3D representation of reality by fusing several sensor modalities. She has developed a low-cost multi-sensor system to acquire and simultaneously visualise 3D environmental scenes. This system allows capturing 3D objects together with image information, thus providing a photo-realistic three-dimensional snapshot of the environment. Lyuba has also been actively working on developing a multi-modality approach to data association and processing based on discrete curvatures and texture and colour analyses. Another research interest concerns inverse dynamic problems, based on the interplay between “discrete” and “continuous” and concerns comparison of robot team’s interaction patterns with behaviour of classical mechanics particle systems. She has been also an active participant in ‘Engineering for Life’, EPSRC funded project, where she focused on development ‘human-centred’ vision and measurement technologies for people with special needs, in particular on the autism spectrum. In 2013-2014 she participated in the nationally funded project ‘The Medic of the Future: Training and Support’, working on developing a novel training system combining a custom haptic feedback and 3D computer-generated environment for training medical personnel. Lyuba was the Programme Chair of the International Conference ‘TAROS’, Towards Autonomous Robotic Systems, in 2011 and 2016. In 2016, she was the lead organiser of the event ‘Fictional human and real robot: sharing spaces with robots’ (part of the UK-wide ‘Being Human Festival’) which took place across several days. One of the exhibits was the initial prototype of the Virtual Reality Robotic museum that allowed visitors young and older being ‘transported’ to a different reality and walk around various exhibits in the Museum. Lyuba is currently a member (external) of the Supervisory board of EU funded project CybSPEED (Cyber-Physical Systems for PEdagogical Rehabilitation in Special EDucation). Currently together with Louis Nisiotis, Lyuba research focusses on creating a new Cyber-Physical-Social experience, the topic of the present talk.

Dr Louis Nisiotis is a Senior Lecturer in Information Systems and Data Management in the Department of Computing. His research interests focus around the areas of Virtual Reality, Educational Virtual Worlds, Immersive Technologies, and Technology Enhanced Learning. Louis is the lead researcher of the VirtualSHU project and over the years he is using immersive technologies and virtual environments in classroom to support teaching and learning, as well as conducting empirical research around the topics of Immersion and Presence, Sociability, Group Cooperation, Student Engagement and Students Collaboration in Virtual Environments. He has developed several 3D and VR prototypes for teaching purposes, and is very active in the ‘Immersive Learning’ and Technology Enhanced scholar community. In addition, Louis is collaborating with Lyuba Alboul and the CARR for the project discussed in this talk, aiming at emerging a Cyber-Physical-Social Eco-System encompassing both physical and virtual worlds and influenced by humans and their social behaviour using VR and Robots.


See here for details of other seminars in the series.

All SHU staff and students are welcome to attend the C3RI Lunchtime Research Seminars. If you are from outside of the University and would like to attend a seminar, please email the C3RI Administrator to arrange entry.