Virtual and Augmented Reality Simulations

Keynote Speakers for ICVARS 2018


Keynote Speaker I

IEEE Fellow, Prof Saman K. Halgamuge
The Australian National University, Australia

Speech Title: Data Engineering- An Engineering Approach to Big Data

Abstract: Data Engineering promotes an engineering approach to analyze big “imperfect” data by creating and using new algorithms of Deep Learning, appropriate electronic hardware platforms and mechanical/mechatronic/chemical-based approaches to interrogate and acquire missing data or information using smart sensing and network control. This presentation will focus on the paradigm of data engineering and provide example algorithms and applications in health and  energy, for example, 1) neural engineering, 2) energy: operational optimization of smart grids and  data centre management.

Most of the existing data analytic methods including conventional Deep Learning rely on the assumption that all possible class labels sufficient to apply Supervised Learning are available.  Although these types of learning algorithms can be generalized, their predictive power will be heavily constrained in the presence of partial information of a problem.


Biography: Saman Halgamuge, Fellow of the IEEE, is a Professor and the Director/Head of Research School of Engineering, The Australian National University. He has previously held appointments as Professor and Associate Dean International at the University of Melbourne.  He graduated with Dipl.-Ing and PhD degrees in Data Engineering (“Datentechnik”) from Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany and B.Sc. Engineering from University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. He is an Associate Editor of BMC Bioinformatics, IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems II and Applied Mathematics (Hindawi). His research that lead to 25o publications has been funded over the last 20 years by Australian Research Council (16 grants), National Health and Medical Research Council (2 grants), industry and other external organisations (13 grants or contracts) and funding to support stipends for 45 PhD students.  His research record is in Data engineering, which includes Data Analytics and Optimization focusing on applications in Mechatronics, Energy, Biology and Medicine. His publication profile is at


Keynote Speaker II

Prof. Hubert Roth

University of Siegen, Germany

Speech Title: Recent Developments in Medical Robotics

Abstract: Robots are part of our everyday life since decades. Many industrial applications cannot be imagined without them, and some years ago service robots even found their way into our homes.

The probably most rapidly evolving sector is the field of medical robotics. Starting in 1983, the Arthrobot™ inspired a whole generation of researchers to combine technology and medicine to get the best outcome for the patient.

In minimally invasive surgery, tools go through narrow openings and manipulate soft organs that can move, deform, or change stiffness. There are limitations on modern laparoscopic and robot-assisted surgical systems due to restricted access through Trocar ports, lack of haptic feedback, and difficulties with rigid robot tools operating inside a confined space filled with organs. Also, many control algorithms suffer from stability problems in the presence of unexpected conditions. Yet biological

manipulators”, like the octopus arm and the elephant trunk, can manipulate objects while controlling the stiffness of selected body parts and being inherently compliant when interacting with objects.

Therefore, new developments are imitating such inspiring biological examples by creating a soft robotic arm that can squeeze through a standard 12mm diameter Trocar-port, reconfigure and partly stiffen itself by hydrostatic actuation to perform compliant force control tasks.


Biography: Professor Dr. Hubert Roth is Head of the Institute of Automatic Control Engineering (RST), ZESS Project Area 4 "Automation, Mechatronics and Medical Technology", International Graduate Studies in Mechatronics, Member of the International Postgraduate Programme Committee on Multi Sensorics of the ZESS... 

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Hubert Roth was born in 21 March, 1954 in Oppenau, Germany. He has rich experiences in his work. He received his Doctorate degree at Karlsruhe Technical University in 1983. In 1988, he was appointment as chair in Control Engineering at Ravensburg-Weingarten University of Applied Sciences. Since 1992, he served as Head of the Technology-transfer-centre for Applied Computer and Software Technologies of Steinbeis GmbH & Co. KG. In 2000, he worked as Substitute chair in Control Engineering at Siegen University, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Informatics. Since 2001, he became Chair in Control Engineering at Siegen University, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Informatics.

He also served as Vice Spokesman of Centre for Sensor Systems (ZESS), Vice Director of Centre for International Capacity Development (CICD), Vice Director of “Technical Committee on Computers and Telematics” of International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC). Since 2012, he is Managing Director of Centre for International Capacity Development (CICD)

His research and scientific Interests include: Navigation und localisation of cooperating mobile Robots, Control in aero-space applications, Obstacle avoidance and path planing for manipulators, Tele-control, tele-manipulation, tele-presence and E-learning. His Recent and Current Research Initiatives are: Navigation of mobil robots using PMD-cameras, Search and Rescue Robotics, Outdoor Robotics and Environmental Exploration (E2N).

He is IEEE member, VDI member, member of the IFAC technical committees on Components and Instruments and on Computers and Telematics. More information about him can be found:


Keynote Speaker III

Prof. Mohammed Bennamoun

The University of Western Australia, Australia

Speech Title: Advances in Computer & Robot Vision

Abstract: Robotics has made significant progress in cases of structured and constrained environments, e.g. manufacturing. However, it is still in its infancy when it comes to applications in unstructured and unconstrained situations e.g. social environments. In some aspects such as speed, strength and accuracy, robots have superior capacities compared to humans but that is not the case for person/object recognition, language, manual dexterity, and social interaction and understanding capabilities. The robotics community believes that robotics will go a long way if robots are able to attain the (i) recognition capabilities of a two year old baby, (ii) language capabilities of a four year old child, (iii) manual dexterity capabilities of a six year old child, and (iv) the social interaction and understanding capabilities of an eight year old child.

Developing a computer vision system with Human visual recognition capabilities has been a very big challenge. It has been hindered mainly by: (i) the non-availability of 3D sensors (with the capabilities of the human eye) which are able to simultaneously capture appearance (colour and texture), surface shapes of objects while in motion, and (ii) the non-availability of algorithms to process this information in real-time. Recently, a number of affordable 3D sensors appeared in the market which is resulting in the development of practical 3D systems. Examples include 3D object and 3D face recognition for biometric applications, as well as the development of home robotic platforms to assist the elderly with mild cognitive impairment.

The objective of the talk will be to describe few 3D computer vision projects and tools used towards the development of a platform for assistive robotics in messy living environments. Various systems with applications and their motivations will be described including 3D object recognition, 3D face/ear biometrics, Grasping of unknown objects, and systems to estimate the 3D pose of a person.


Biography: Mohammed Bennamoun received his M.Sc. from Queen's University , Kingston, Canada in the area of Control Theory, and his PhD from Queen's /Q.U.T in Brisbane, Australia in the area of Computer Vision. He lectured Robotics at Queen's, and then joined QUT in 1993 as an Associate Lecturer. He is currently a Winthrop Professor. He served as the Head of the School of Computer Science and Software Engineering at The University of Western Australia (UWA) for five years (February 2007-March 2012). He served as the Director of a University Centre at QUT: The Space Centre for Satellite Navigation from 1998-2002.

He served as a member of the Australian Research Council (ARC) College of Experts from 2013-2015. He was an Erasmus Mundus Scholar and Visiting Professor in 2006 at the University of Edinburgh. He was also Visiting Professor at CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) and Telecom Lille1, France in 2009, The Helsinki University of Technology in 2006, and The University of Bourgogne and Paris 13 in France in 2002-2003. He is the co-author of the book. Object Recognition: Fundamentals and Case Studies", Springer-Verlag, 2001, and the co-author of an Edited book on .Ontology Learning and Knowledge Discovery Using the Web", published in 2011.

He published close to 100 journal papers and 250 conference papers, and secured highly competitive national grants from the ARC, government and other funding bodies. Some of these grants were in collaboration with Industry partners (through the ARC Linkage Project scheme) to solve real research problems for industry, including Swimming Australia, the West Australian Institute of Sport, a textile company (Beaulieu Pacific), and AAM-GeoScan. He worked on research problems and collaborated (through joint publications, grants and supervision of PhD students) with researchers from different disciplines including Animal Biology, Speech Processing, Biomechanics, Ophthalmology, Dentistry, Linguistics, Robotics, Photogrammetry, and Radiology. He collaborated with researchers from within Australia (e.g. CSIRO), as well as Internationally (e.g. Germany, France, Finland, USA). He won several awards, including the Best Supervisor of the Year Award at QUT in 1998, an award for teaching excellence (research supervision), and the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Research Mentorship in 2016. He also received an award for research supervision at UWA in 2008.

He served as a guest editor for a couple of special issues in International journals, such as the International Journal of Pattern Recognition and Artificial Intelligence (IJPRAI). He was selected to give conference tutorials at the European Conference on Computer Vision (ECCV), the International Conference on Acoustics Speech and Signal Processing (IEEE ICASSP), the IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision (CVPR 2016), and a course at the International Summer School on Deep Learning (DeepLearn2017). He organized several special sessions for conferences; including a special session for the IEEE International Conference in Image Processing (IEEE ICIP). He was on the program committee of many conferences e.g. 3D Digital Imaging and Modeling (3DIM) and the International Conference on Computer Vision. He also contributed in the organisation of many local and international conferences. His areas of interest include control theory, robotics, obstacle avoidance, object recognition, artificial neural networks, signal/image processing and computer vision (particularly 3D).


Keynote Speaker IV

Prof. Manolya Kavakli-Thorne
Macquarie University, Faculty of Science Department of Computing, Australia

Speech Title: The Use of Augmented Reality Technology in Smart Cities

Abstract: The goal of this talk is to discuss the use of augmented reality in the context of smart cities. A smart city is an urban area using Internet of Things (IoT) and sensors for data collection from citizens, devices, and assets to supply information which is used to manage assets and resources efficiently. Smart city systems optimize the efficiency of city operations and services, while connecting to citizens and citizens to citizens. The data collected is processed and analyzed to monitor and manage vehicle and pedestrian traffic, transportation systems, power plants, water supply networks, waste management, information systems, and other community services such as law enforcement, schools, libraries, hospitals. Thus, smart city systems provide means for councils to interact directly with both community and the infrastructure, to monitor the current state of the city, and to enhance quality, performance and interactivity of urban services, while reducing costs and resource consumption. Smart systems can be used to increase contacts between citizens and government. At Macquarie University, we recently obtained a Commonwealth grant with the Ryde City Council to develop smart transport systems in Macquarie Park, NSW. The funding is used to develop smart systems to manage urban flows, particularly pedestrian traffic, collecting real-time data. This means that local businesses in Macquarie Park can monitor pedestrian traffic and better manage their resources to increase revenue. Thus, Ryde City Council can improve planning of transport services, and share real-time information with citizens. In this talk, we will present applications we have been developing for Augmented Reality and discuss how this might facilitate the development of a smart city concept. We will also brain storm ideas for future applications of augmented reality in the context of smart cities to respond to challenges ahead.

Biography: Associate Professor Manolya Kavakli-Thorne is currently the Director of the Postgraduate Coursework Program at the Department of ComputingMacquarie University. She is an active researcher with 133 refereed papers (775 citations) in the last 25 years working on Human Computer Interaction (HCI). She has been the recipient of 10 awards and more than 30 grants from a number of scientific international organisations including the Australian Research Council, the Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey, Turkish Republic State Planning Organization. Her research has been profiled in international media 32 times. Dr Kavakli supervised 7 postdoctoral fellows and 47 potsgraduate (11 PhD, 2 MSc, 7 Honours, 18 MIT and 9 French MEng internship) students in HCI. At present, she has been supervising 8 postgraduate students in this domain.

Dr Kavakli started working on HCI in design, following her graduation from the Faculty of ArchitectureIstanbul Technical University, in 1987. Her earlier research studies focused on the simulation of designers’ behaviour and interaction with computer aided design systems. She developed two knowledge based systems for the solution of specific design problems to gain her M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in 1990 and 1995 from Istanbul Technical University. In her early postdoctoral studies, she focused on computer graphics and sketch recognition to be able to design more effective and intuitive software systems for architects and engineers. She was awarded a NATO Science Fellowship in 1996 with her postdoctoral research project titled "An AI application for the transformation of 2D sketch to 3D geometric model" and started working on the analysis of hand drawn images. She worked at the Colour and Imaging Institute (former Design Research Centre), University of Derby, UK for a year. In 1998 she received a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the University of Sydney, Australia and worked on the differences in cognitive processing between novice and expert designers at the Key Centre of Design Computing and Cognition for 1.5 years.

Until 1999 she was an Associate Professor in Design Science and Methodology at the Faculty of ArchitectureIstanbul Technical University, In 2000, she started lecturing in IT at the School of Information TechnologyCharles Sturt University. In 2002, she took an active role in establishing the first degree in Computer Science (Games Technology) and became its Acting Course Coordinator. By that time, her research in HCI started having a strong focus on the creation of virtual habitats and novel interaction methods with virtual objects and avatars in computer games and training simulations. In 2003, she became a Senior Lecturer at Department of Computing, Macquarie University, and established a Virtual Reality Lab, as well as VISOR (Virtual and Interactive Simulations of Reality) Research Group. She is currently continuing her research on HCI using virtual reality and motion tracking technologies with a strong focus on the development of training simulations. In 2013 and 2014 Dr Kavakli received two 2-month appointments for Research Professorships at the Virtual Immersion Research Group, Image Institute - Laboratory Le2i, Ecole Nationale Superieure d'Arts et Metiers ParisTech, Chalon Sur Saone, France. Joining CEPET (Centre for Elite Performance, Expertise, and Training) as an associate member, she took an active role in building a Simulation Hub together with her colleagues from the Department of Psychology.