Fovolab conducts high-level research into human visual perception and develops new methods of representing visual experience in media.
The main purpose of Fovolab is to better understand the nature of visual experience and how to depict it. We do this by combining knowledge and methods from the art, sciences and humanities, each of which has a role to play in solving the complex issues involved.
From the arts, we take one of the oldest and most basic tools for observing and recording reality, which is drawing. Using drawing and painting we are able to capture features of subjective visual experience that no other technology can access. Artists have been recording their experience of reality in this way for thousands of years, and much of what they have learnt is embedded in the countless images and artefacts that make up human culture.
At the same time we are able to tap into the enormous volume of detailed knowledge that has been accumulated over centuries by science about the nature of light, optics, the biology of vision, and the psychology of perception. The scientific method of experimentally testing hypotheses is a powerful way of discovering how vision works and revealing new phenomena. We have combined reports of subjective visual experiences with experimental procedures to gather robust evidence about how the visual world appears to us.
Equally important are is the contribution from the humanities, especially art history and philosophy. By studying historical works of art, and following what artists and critics have written about them, we can get a better grasp of how artists have dealt with the problem of representing visual experience. It is remarkable how deeply artists have thought about these issues and how advanced their practical investigations have been. From a philosophical perspective, vision raises some of the most ancient questions about the nature of the relationship between the mind and the world. Such questions cannot be ignored if our understanding of how we see is to deepen.
Please see a list of selected research papers
Our research into human visual perception has led to a number of technological developments that offer improved ways of depicting visual experience. Existing imaging systems, such as cameras and computer graphics engines, are based on the geometry of linear perspective, which was developed over 500 years ago during the Italian Renaissance. Useful as linear perspective has been in allowing us to capture visual space on a flat picture plane, its many limitations have been well known ever since it was discovered. These include the fact that perspective images generally capture only a single eye point of view, and a very narrow angle of vision.
We have developed a process called Fovography that overcomes these limitations. It allows us to capture the full field of view (hence the prefix ‘fov’) and present it on a flat surface in a way that appears natural to human perceptions. Moreover, because we represent the human visual field in a natural way the resulting images appear to have much more breadth and much more depth than conventional images. This means we can create, in effect, 3D visual experiences without glasses, goggles, or expensive screens.
We are currently applying Fovography in a number of commercial contexts, including advertising, simulation, computer gaming, and virtual reality. Fovography is a patent pending process and a registered trademark.