Blog Post

tower defence game in development

Research Project: Distance Perception Eye Accommodation Detection Using Variable Distance Virtual Software

The UCSIM | Center for Simulations & Virtual Environments Research is excited to collaborate with Dr. Joseph Clark in the UC Athletics – Baseball department on a new project.  The UC Athletics Department has requested development of prototype research software to measure distance perception eye accommodation in student athletes and collect preliminary data in preparation to solicit funding for further research and development.  The goal of the research project is to determine baseline distance perception performance and ultimately improve athletic performance outcomes. 

For more information, visit the project page.

Screenshot "Virtual Counselor" Cognitive Support System

“Virtual Counselor” Cognitive Support System

The UCSIM | Center for Simulations & Virtual Environments Research recently partnered with Dr. George Richardson in the CECH-Human Services department on a funding proposal that was awarded to develop a working prototype “Virtual Counselor” Cognitive Support System mobile application.

The Virtual Counselor (VC) is a novel computer program that enables users to achieve behavioral change by providing experiential learning via realistic simulations that engage users in cost-effective and safe virtual environments. The VC stands apart from existing computer-based educational and treatment applications because it is content-neutral and applicable to a very broad range of health-relevant behaviors. In addition, the VC outputs graphical depictions of client cognition that can enhance client-professional counselor communication and inform clinical decisions.

For more information, see the project page.

Research Project: Virtual Reality Application for Game Theory, Towers of Hanoi, & Prisoner’s Dilemma Study

The UCSIM | Center for Simulations & Virtual Environments Research is excited to start a new collaborative project with Dr. Jaime Windeler and Dr. Andrew Harrison in the Lindner College of Business.  The Virtual Reality Application for Game Theory, Towers of Hanoi, & Prisoner’s Dilemma Study project will allow study participants to perform game theory tasks (Towers of Hanoi and Prisoner’s Dilemma with Punishment Rounds) as part of their ongoing research about economic decision-making.  The purpose of this phase of the study is to measure the effects of fully immersive virtual reality on decision-making.

UCSIM will develop a prototype virtual reality application with game theory exercises for study participants, including a Tower of Hanoi scenario for cooperative play, and a Prisoner’s Dilemma with Punishment Rounds scenario.  The Prisoner’s Dilemma game will feature six (6) rounds where players decide how many tokens to contribute to a group pool, and how many tokens to punish other players for not contributing to the group pool.

For more information, visit the project page.

UCSIM at TEDxCincinnati Innovation Alley

The Center for Simulations & Virtual Environments Research (UCSIM) was delighted to participate in the TEDxCincinnati “Innovation Alley” on July 9, 2015 at the Cincinnati Mason Center downtown.  The sold-out event brought together a vibrant Cincinnati community of explorers, artists, and technologists for an evening of sharing and discovery.


About TEDxCincinnati

Cincinnati is a thriving hub for many disciplines — technology, entertainment, design, science, humanities, business, and development. It is a community of remarkable individuals who contribute to “Ideas Worth Spreading.”  In the spirit of Ideas Worth Spreading, TEDxCincinnati brings people together to share a TED-like experience. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized, where the x = independently organized TED events. A TEDxCincinnati Main Stage event features TED talk videos, live speakers and performers to spark deep discussion and connection.


UCSIM at Innovation Alley

The UCSIM booth at the TEDxCincinnati Innovation Alley demonstrated several immersive technologies, including augmented reality with Google Glass, virtual reality with the Oculus Rift, and gesture controls with Leap Motion.





With great thanks to the TEDxCincinnati organizers, we look forward to participating again next year!

UCSIM Demo at OELMA’s 2nd Regional Innovative Learning Spaces EduConference

UCSIM was happy to participate in the OELMA’s 2nd regional Innovative Learning Spaces EduConference last Friday!  The Ohio Educational Library Media Association partnered with Butler Tech and Warren County Career Center to offer a one day professional development event on May 1, 2015. The Innovative Learning Spaces EduConference was designed for school librarians, technology leaders, administrators, and youth services librarians.




UCSIM Demo at the CECH 2015 IT Expo

On Tuesday, April 14, 2015, the fifth annual Information Technology Expo was held in the University of Cincinnati Recreation Center.  The event featured a guest speaker and senior projects on display by undergraduate students in the Information Technology program.  The projects represented the breadth of knowledge covered in the IT program and highlight the two primary areas of focus: Software Application Development and Networking & Systems.  UCSIM congratulated senior developers and demoed the Oculus Rift, Leap Motion, and Google Glass technology.





UCSIM Welcomes RevolutionUC Hackathon!


RevolutionUC is a college hackathon, hosted every semester at the University of Cincinnati. A hackathon is when people who are excited about programming come together for a weekend and collaborate to build cool things. Entrepreneurs, designers, and developers work in teams to create hacks and apps for web or mobile platforms – in our case, these creators are university students. Projects will be judged based on creativity, technical difficulty, polish, and usefulness.




Using a virtual model of the real University of Cincinnati campus and an Oculus Rift DK2, develop an interactive application that would help incoming freshman learn more about living, working, and playing in and around UC.  Your application should take advantage of the sense of presence and immersion that virtual reality provides, and may address any of the following themes: Campus Safety, Finding Classes, Virtual Tours, Campus of the Future.  Be sure to consider the end user experience and how to minimize simulator sickness in your design!



Wearable computing will change the way we interact with our devices and the world around us.  Develop an application for Google Glass that will improve the educational experience in any of the following topics: Augmented Reality Classroom or Lab, Scheduling and Organizing, Personalized Education, Collaboration & Teamwork.


Entries will be judged based several criteria, including:
  • Problem Definition:  How precise and relevant is the real world problem or opportunity? How interesting or difficult to resolve – functionally or technically – is the problem being challenged? For this criterion, we only focus on the problem challenged, not on the solution created to solve this problem.
  • Solution Design & Innovation:  Does the application approach a new problem, or look at an old problem in a new way? Is the solution completely innovative or does it rely on an existing concept/technology? Does the application impact a large number of people very broadly, or impact a smaller number of people very deeply? To what degree does the application actually solve the current problem?
  • Practical Application:  Is the application technically viable? Would people use this product?  Is this solution only theoretical or does it have a realistic application for educational purposes? (Not necessarily here and now, but eventually in the future and/or for certain markets).
  • Functionality:  How functional is the prototype?  Does the prototype demonstrate lots of functionality at a high level or is it more limited in scope?
  • Presentation & User Experience:  How well is the application presented?  Is the user experience positive or negative?  How intuitive or functional is the UI design?

UCSIM Staff will be available during the competition for guidance and mentoring.  Good luck hackers!



Virtual Reality as a Powerful Tool in Medicine

Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT) is one of the most important applications of Virtual Reality (VR) and Simulation technology. VR has proven to be an efficient tool due to the ability of a computer to provide visuals, sound, and in some cases other sensory information such as touch, which replicates a physical situation as closely as possible, but only in a virtual sense.

For example, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) can be treated with VRT. It is a disorder that occurs when an individual experiences traumatizing situations which embeds a feeling of powerlessness and horror in the individual. Through VR, more than 70% of soldiers who were suffering from PTSD after the Iraq war have seen improvements. Similar results are obtained from the use of VR in Computerized CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) where at a research level, several mental disorders have been diagnosed accurately and treatment has been prescribed.

With the advent of new consumer level VR technology, such as the Oculus Rift and other HMD (Head Mounted Display) systems which provide the user with visual experiences that are very close to the real situations, and other peripheral developments to track movement and motion, it is now possible to provide all sorts of sensory information to the user for any given situation.

Using this computing capability to treat and help people suffering from perennial and genetic disorders such as Autism, Down’s Syndrome (DS) and other genetic disorders is a new area of exploration for using VR in medicine and treatment. Currently children suffering from such genetic disorders are given special training by qualified and dedicated teachers and parents who work in co-operation with them day and night in order to provide assistance in dealing with real life situations. However, there are limitations to this method of teaching which may be augmented by including VR based teaching with human assisted training.

The use of Virtual Reality to tackle this issue has a great future from both a medical and business perspective. The power of computing and providing sensory information is the key to making this technology possible. Researchers at the University of Haifa, Israel have made excellent studies on the use of VR to treat Autism. Their collaboration with MERL’s Diamond Touch (DT) hardware, a multitouch interface to assist learning, has been an extremely powerful tool in improving communication and social skills along with improving academic and functional abilities.

Another similar situation is in simulating traffic signals and road crossing scenarios which cannot be implemented in reality due to the inherent danger of the scenario, but in a virtual reality situation, those suffering from anxiety can receive treatment in safety. This research performed at the University of Haifa has been extremely effective in treating children suffering from Autism.

Although using VR for treatment of such disorders is becoming more accepted, the idea of further research and developing this technology to a consumer level product which enables best treatment techniques from one part of the world to be available to every individual suffering from this disorder is still in its infancy. The use of any technology is judged by its potential to influence and change humanity, and the ultimate goal of many VR researchers is to move beyond gaming services to develop technologies that can change individuals’ lives and help them become better, more capable and healthy people.



Delavarian, Mona; Afrooz, G Ali and Gharibzadeh, Shahriar, “Virtual Reality and Down Syndrome Rehabilitation.” The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences 24:2, Spring 2012

Josman, Naomi; Ben-Chaim, Hadass Milika; Friedrich, Shula;Weiss, Patrice L, “Effectiveness of Virtual Reality for Teaching Street-Crossing Skills to Children and Adolescents with Autism”, International Journal of Disability Development and Education (Impact Factor: 0.59). ;7(1):49-56; 01/2008;.

“Virtual reality treatment for autism.” Virtual reality blog.  Retrieved 17 Aug. 2014. <>

Gal, Eynat; Bauminger, Nirit; Goren-Bar,Dina; Pianesi, Fabio; Stock, Oliviero; Zancanaro, Massimo; Weiss, Patrice L. (Tamar), ” Enhancing social communication of children with high functioning autism through a co-located interface”, AI and Society, the Journal of Human-Centred Systems. ; Vol 24; 01:2009.

Image Credits

Blue Room ISV;

Marc Ambasna-Jones; Virtual Reality Addresses UK Kids’ Autism and Phobias; web page IDG Connect; July 08, 2014 <>


UCSIM Welcomes INTERAlliance IT Careers Camp 2014!

For the ninth year, the INTERalliance is running its renowned “IT Careers Camp” program at UC, hosted by the IS Department of the College of Business, NKU College of Informatics, and Miami University, Oxford School of Engineering and Applied Science. Twenty students per week live in the dormitories and compete on four teams of five students, with each team sponsored and branded by a company (e.g., “Team P&G” versus “Team Cintas” versus “Team Kroger”, etc.).

The students go to a different sponsor site each morning and compete in problem-solving “Olympics”, with the events built around real-world business challenges encountered by the host sponsor company. The students have lunch with the IT management team at the company and discuss career opportunities in IT and applied technology at that firm, and then return to the host university to work on their capstone project – their entry in the “Technology Optimized Business Enterprise” or “TOBE” competition.

In this weeklong design contest, the teams attempt to conceive a business plan for a new business – a social enterprise – that can leverage IT and technology to create substantial employment and career opportunities for people with disabilities. On Saturday each week, the teams present their designs to a panel of judges from the local agency supporting disabled clients and the sponsors.

UCSIM is excited to participate in the event and welcomes the INTERAlliance camp students to the exciting field of immersive technology!

UCSIM Fun Facts

1.  Gaming is a $70 Billion dollar industry, surpassing the movie industry for the first time in 2013!



2.  According to, investors think several industries could be revolutionized by virtual reality technology!



3.  Careers in architecture, engineering, urban planning, entertainment, game design, and many others require 3D modeling skills!


4.  Game and entertainment design is a rapidly growing field, and most game engines now offer free student licenses!



UCSIM Challenge Question

New interface devices like Google Glass, Oculus Rift, Leap Motion, and the Microsoft Kinect hint at a future in which virtual and augmented reality are not only more common, but allow us to interact with information and technology in more natural ways.  Instead of using a computer keyboard and mouse, or swipe screens, we’ll interact with augmented and virtual reality using our bodies, hands, voices, and other senses.

Your challenge:  How can the University of Cincinnati leverage this technology to improve the student learning experience?  Select one of the four technologies demoed today and explain how you would integrate that technology in the classroom to improve learning outcomes!

Preparing a 3D model to be 3D Printed

Shelling the 123D Catch Model


1. Download your model from your profile on Autodesk’s 123D Catch website. The model is under Edit/Download > Download 3D Models.  Save it to somewhere familiar so that it is easy to find.


2. Open the Blender program. If you do not have the program downloaded yet, it is a free program found at


3. Once the program has been opened, go to the top left of the screen and go to File > Import > WaveFront (.obj).


4. Find your models save folder and go to mesh > mesh.obj > Import obj.


5. Once the mesh is imported into your scene, press the R key for rotate, then press X to rotate the model on the X-axis, and press -90 to turn your model face up.


6. The model may be too large, so to scale it press S for scale and adjust the model with the mouse.


7. After adjusting the models size, Right Click the model with your mouse and hit Tab to go into Edit Mode.


8. After you are in Edit Mode, you can hit the Z key to get an X-ray form of the mesh. To navigate around your model, Middle Click your mouse and drag to rotate the model in your view port. Scrolling the mouse wheel is a quick way to zoom in and out.


9. To delete any unnecessary mesh around your model, press the C key to use the circle select tool, and highlight the part of your model that you want to keep by Left Clicking on your mouse to select. Once the area you want is highlighted, press the H key to hide your model.


10. The main model is now hidden and all of the mesh you do not want can still be seen. Press the B key to use Box Select, and then click and drag across the entire mesh that is left. Once it is highlighted, press the X key and click on the Vertices option.


11. Now that everything is deleted, press Alt H to bring your model back. The model is still in X ray mode, so hit the Z key to make it solid again, and then hit Tab to go back into Object Mode.


12. Back in Object Mode, go to the Modifier Tab to the right of the screen. It looks like a little wrench.



13. Press Add Modifier and look for the Solidify modifier on the left side of the category.


14. A Solidify menu will appear underneath with a few options. You can adjust the shell of your object by clicking or sliding the Thickness adjuster.


15. Once you have your preferred thickness of the model, press the Apply button.


16. All that is left is to go back up to File > Export > and whichever file type is needed, such as .obj, .stl, or .fbx.