Rats Will Encounter Rat-Size People, and Vice Versa

Rats and people (or any two different size critters) can encounter each other on the same scale, virtually, under the scheme outlined in a new study. The image below demonstrates virtual rat-sized persons in a rat world. The study is:

Beaming into the Rat World: Enabling Real-Time Interaction between Rat and Human Each at Their Own Scale,” Jean-Marie Normand, Maria V. Sanchez-Vives, Christian Waechter, Elias Giannopoulos, Bernhard Grosswindhager, Bernhard Spanlang, Christoph Guger, Gudrun Klinker, Mandayam A. Srinivasan, Mel Slater [pictured here], PLoS ONE 7(10), 2012, e48331. The authors, at University of Barcelona, Spain, Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany, Guger Technologies (g.tec), Schiedlberg, Austria, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, University College London, London, UK, and other institutions, explain:

“The participant in the IVR [Immersive Virtual Reality] is represented in the destination by a physical robot (Teleoperator) and simultaneously the remote place and entities within it are represented to the participant in the IVR…. Here, we show how such a system can be deployed to allow a human and a rat to operate together, but the human interacting with the rat on a human scale, and the rat interacting with the human on the rat scale. The human is represented in a rat arena by a small robot that is slaved to the human’s movements, whereas the tracked rat is represented to the human in the virtual reality by a humanoid avatar.”

The authors conclude:  “the system functioned well and that the humans were able to interact with the rat to fulfil the tasks of the game. This system opens up the possibility of new applications in the life sciences involving participant observation of and interaction with animals but at human scale.”