Professor Robert Stone BSc (Hons), MSc, CPsychol, AFBPsS, FIEHF, EurErg

Chair in Interactive Multimedia Systems
Director, Human Interface Technologies Team

School of Electronic, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Professor Robert Stone

Contact details

Telephone +44 (0)121 414 7395

Fax +44 (0) 121 414 4291

Email r.j.stone@bham.ac.uk

School of Electronic, Electrical and Computer Engineering
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
UK

About

Robert (Bob) Stone holds a Chair in Interactive Multimedia Systems within the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Birmingham, where he is also Director of the Human Interface Technologies (HIT) Team. He graduated from University College London in 1979 with a BSc in Psychology, and in 1981 with an MSc in Ergonomics. Bob also currently holds the position of Visiting Professor in Simulation Psychology within the University of Plymouth.

One of the first Europeans to experience the NASA VIEW Virtual Reality (VR) system in 1987, and having established the first industrial VR team at the UK’s National Advanced Robotics Centre, following an appearance on the BBC’s 9 O’Clock News in January, 1993, he brought together (initially) 12 companies to fund the world’s first industrial collaborative project addressing the commercial applications of VR. In May 1996, Bob was elected to become an Academician of the Russian International Higher Education Academy of Sciences in Moscow and was, in 2000, accredited by General Klimuk, Director of Russia’s Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre as responsible for “introducing VR into the cosmonaut space programme”.

Bob adopts a very pragmatic approach to Human Factors research and he regularly spends time conducting observational studies in the field with subject matter experts in order to ensure the relevancy and impact of any research he and his students undertake. This approach has taken him from Royal Navy vessels conducting close-range weapons and missile trials to underwater operations onboard submarines and rescue submersibles; from oil and gas support platforms in the North Sea to remotely operated vehicle trials in the waters around Scotland; and from search-and-rescue helicopters over the mountains and coasts of Wales and Cornwall to operating theatres and medical units throughout the UK, US and South Africa.

Bob’s work has received numerous national and international awards for his Virtual Reality and Telepresence efforts, including, uniquely, three from the Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors, and, in 2011, the MoD Chief Scientific Advisor’s Commendation for his contribution to Defence Science and Technology.

Qualifications

• MSc (Ergonomics), 1981
• BSc (Hons) Psychology, 1979

Biography

Bob Stone graduated from University College London in 1979 with a BSc in Psychology, and in 1981 with an MSc in Ergonomics. He held the position of Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor in Integrated Systems Design within the University of Plymouth between 2005 and 2009 and was made an Honorary Professor of the South Russia State Technical University (Novocherkassk) at that University’s 100th Anniversary in 2007.

After 9 years of ergonomics research at British Aerospace in Bristol, where he specialised in military human factors and remotely operated systems (conducting applied research and consultancy for the Department of Energy, the nuclear industry and the European Space Agency), Bob was involved in the launch of the UK’s National Advanced Robotics Research Centre, funded by the Department of Trade & Industry. Having been one of the first Europeans to experience the NASA VIEW Virtual Reality (VR) system in 1987, he established the UK’s first industrial VR team at the Robotics Centre and, over a number of years undertook numerous telerobotics and VR consultancy and research projects for commercial and government clients (including developing the world’s first tactile feedback glove for VR applications, Teletact).

Following an appearance on the BBC’s 9 O’Clock News in January, 1993, he brought together a range of companies to fund the world’s first industrial collaborative project addressing the commercial uses of VR. The success of this initiative enabled Bob’s group to be launched as VR Solutions Ltd in the mid-1990s, a company he remained a Director of until 2002.

In May 1996, Bob was elected to become an Academician of the Russian International Higher Education Academy of Sciences in Moscow and was, in 2000, accredited by General Klimuk, Director of Russia’s Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre as responsible for “introducing VR into the cosmonaut space programme”. As well as his current defence-related activities, Bob’s pioneering surgical task analysis efforts in the mid-1990s led to the development of a suite of simulated perceptual-motor tasks for a unique keyhole surgery VR trainer (MIST), which went on to become one of the world’s most successfully marketed surgical skills trainers.

From 1999 to 2002, Bob sat on the Royal College of Surgeons’ Joint Committee on Higher Surgical Training, investigating the assessment of surgical training and competence and, in January 2000, passed the College’s Basic Surgical Skills course. Today, he works closely with the European Centre for Environment and Human Health, is an Honorary Consultant in Human Factors & Simulation within the UK’s Hollier Medical Simulation Centre (http://www.hollier-simulation-centre.co.uk/) and was a Human Factors consultant to the US Office of Naval Research-funded Pulse!! Virtual Healthcare Project (led by Texas A&M University Corpus Christi).

His work has received numerous awards, including, in 2003, the Laval Virtual Trophée d’Honneur for his “service to the European Virtual Reality Community” since 1987. In the same year, was made an Honorary Cossack at a ceremony in Starocherkassk, the former Don Cossack regional capital, recognising his decade of VR collaboration with the Russians. In 2007, he was awarded the UK Ergonomics Society’s Sir Frederic Bartlett Award, the highest award given by that Society to an individual (and the first time ever that an individual had been awarded by the Society three times in their career). Bob lectures to audiences of all backgrounds and ages across the world on the subject of VR, serious games and human factors.

Teaching

 

  • Year 1 Group Project (EE1G1)
  • Human Factors and Interactive System Design (EE4U)
  • Interactive 3D Design for Virtual Environments and Serious Games (EE3K1)
  • Advanced Interactive 3D Design for Virtual Environments and Serious Games (EE4A)

Postgraduate supervision

  • Interactive technologies and fidelity for Virtual Environments and Serious Games.
  • Augmented Reality technologies and applications (Defence, Medicine, Heritage).
  • Interactive visualisation for situational awareness.
  • Interactive technologies, remote viewing, haptics and manipulation systems for telerobotics and telepresence.
  • Virtual Environments and Serious Games for psychotherapy, restoration of well-being and rehabilitation.
  • Virtual Environments and Serious Games for Defence, Space, Underwater Exploration, Heritage, Medicine & Surgery, Education.

Research

  • Design, application and evaluation of simulation technologies for restorative “blue-green” therapies (Virtual Restorative Environment Therapy).
  • Development of fidelity taxonomies and frameworks for Virtual Environments and Serious Games.
  • Development and evaluation of Virtual Environments and Serious Games for defence training applications.
  • Design and evaluation of interactive technologies for remote driving and manipulation (subsea, nuclear, space, defence)

Other activities

  • Affiliate member of the European Centre for Environment & Human Health.
  • Represents the UK on a NATO Research & Technology Group (HFM-215 - Advanced Training Technologies for Medical/Healthcare).
  • Honorary Consultant in Human Factors & Simulation within the West Midlands Hollier Medical Simulation Centre.

Consultancy R&D:

  • Dstl, Aston Martin, Naval Design Partnership, Defence Academy, QinetiQ.

Former Posts:

  • VP Group of Companies / VP Defence Ltd (2001 - 2003). Position: Scientific Director.
  • VR Solutions Limited (1995 - 2001). Position: Director & General Manager.
  • Advanced Robotics Research Limited - the National Advanced Robotics Research Centre (1989 – 1995). Position: Technical Manager; Virtual Reality & Telepresence Team Leader.
  • British Aerospace Sowerby Research Centre (Bristol, UK, 1980 - 1989). Position: Group Leader, Ergonomics - Cognitive Studies/ Manual Control & Space Studies.

Publications

From 2006 - to date

Ch’ng, E. & Stone, R.J. (2006), Enhancing Virtual Reality with Artificial Life: Reconstructing a Flooded European Mesolithic Landscape. Presence (Special Virtual Heritage Edition – Stone also co-guest editor); June, 2006; 15(3); 341-352

Stone, R.J. & Barker, P. (2006), Serious Gaming: A New Generation of Virtual Simulation Technologies for Defence Medicine & Surgery. International Review of the Armed Forces Medical Services; June 2006; 120-128.

Stone, R.J. (2007), Virtual Scylla”; UT2 (Society for Underwater Technology); June, 2007; 30 and 32.

Stone, R.J. (2009), Virtual Environments and Human Factors: a Personal Reflection on the Last 30 Years. Invited article for Ergonomics at 60: A Celebration; The Ergonomics Society; January, 2009; 8-9.

Stone, R.J. (2009), Serious Games – Virtual Reality’s Second Coming?” Editorial in Virtual Reality; 13(1); February 2009; 1-2.

Stone,R.J., Caird-Daley, A., & Bessell, K. (2009), SubSafe: A Games-Based Training System for Submarine Safety and Spatial Awareness (Part 1). Virtual Reality; 13(1); February 2009; 3-12.

Stone,R.J., White, D., Guest, R., & Francis, B. (2009), The Virtual Scylla: an Exploration in Serious Games and Artificial Life. Virtual Reality; 13(1); February 2009; 13-25.

Stone,R.J. & Caird-Daley, A. (2009), Submarine Safety and Spatial Awareness: the SubSafe Games-Based Training System. n Proceedings of the Ergonomics Society’s 60th Anniversary Conference; Royal College of Physicians; London; 23 April 2009; 320-331.

Stone,R.J. (2009), How Human Factors Helps to Drive Down Casualties of War – Part 1. Invited Feature for The Ergonomist; 470; August, 2009; 4-5.

Stone,R.J. (2009), How Human Factors Helps to Drive Down Casualties of War – Part 2. Invited Feature for The Ergonomist; 470; September, 2009; 4-5.

Stone,R.J. (2010), Serious Games – the Future of Simulation for the Royal Navy? Review of Naval Engineering; 3(3); March; 37-45.

Stone,R.J., Caird-Daley, A., & Bessell, K. (2010), Human Factors Evaluation of a Submarine Spatial Awareness Training Tool. In Proceedings of the Human Performance at Sea (HPAS) 2010 Conference; Glasgow, 16-18 June; 231-241.

Stone,R.J. (2010), Serious Games. Ingenia; 345; December; 33-38.

Stone,R.J. (2011), The (Human) Science of Medical Virtual Learning Environments. Invited Paper; Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B; 366 (1562); 2011; 276-285.

Depledge, M., Stone, R.J., Bird, W. (2011), Can Natural and Virtual Environments be used to Promote Improved Human Health and Wellbeing? Environmental Science and Technology; June, 2011 (In Press; submitted 29 November, 2010; Web Publication, 19 April 2011: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es103907m).

Expertise

Applied psychology (including industrial psychology); human factors (ergonomics); virtual reality, simulation and computer-based 3D graphics; defence arena (weapons systems, people/users); medical/surgical technology (human-centred): 'serious games'

Media experience

Bob's work has been regularly featured in the print and broadcast media. Recent interviews include the Daily Telegraph and BBC Midlands Today.

Alternative contact number available for this expert: contact the press office

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