Robert (Bob) Stone is a Chartered Ergonomist & Human Factors Specialist and holds a Chair in Interactive Multimedia Systems within the College of Engineering and Physical Sciencesat 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. Stone also currently holds the position of Visiting Professor in Simulation Psychology within the University of Plymouth, his home town, and was made an Honorary Professor of the South Russia State Technical University (Novocherkassk) at that University’s 100th Anniversary in 2007. After nine years of Human Factors research at British Aerospace in Bristol, where he specialised in military ergonomics and remotely operated systems (conducting applied research for the Department of Energy and the European Space Agency), Stone was involved in the launch of the UK’s National Advanced Robotics Research Centre, funded by the Department of Trade & Industry. Stone was the first European to experience the NASA VIEW Virtual Reality (VR) system and, in 1987, he established the UK’s first industrial VR team at the Robotics Centre where, amongst numerous achievements, he developed 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 (initially) 12 companies to fund the world’s first industrial collaborative project addressing the commercial uses of VR. The success of this initiative enabled Stone’s group to be launched as VR Solutions Ltd in the mid-1990s, a company in which he remained a Director until 2002.
In May 1996, Stone was elected to become an Academician of the Russian International Higher Education Academy of Sciences 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”. Stone was the Research Director of the UK Human Factors Integration Defence Technology Centre for over 6 years, and it is from within this Centre that many of his team’s projects originate, covering human-centred design and evaluation methodologies for applications as varied as close-range weapons training and support for surgical and mental health therapies to submarine safety awareness, IED search and disposal training and unmanned vehicle control. Stone and his team adopt a very pragmatic approach to Human Factors research and he regularly spends time conducting observational studies in the field with subject matter experts. This 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. From an impact perspective, Stone’s defence research has influenced the uptake of VR technologies – in particular submarine safety training – throughout the Armed Forces in the UK, Canada and Australia, and his team’s high-fidelity CUTLASS bomb disposal simulator, the result of 3 years of Dstl research funding, is now installed in bases across the UK (Including Northern Ireland), Cyprus and Gibraltar. More recently, Stone and his team have been undertaking innovative research for Dstl and BAE Systems addressing future reconfigurable multimodal and mixed reality centres for naval and land-based command and control applications.
Also from an impact perspective, Stone’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), marketed for nearly a decade by Mentice of Sweden. From 1999 to 2002, Stone sat on a working party on behalf of 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 Royal College of Surgeons of England’s Basic Surgical Skills course. Stone was a Simulation Human Factors consultant to the US Office of Naval Research-funded Pulse!! Virtual Healthcare Project (led by Texas A&M University Corpus Christi). Today, he works closely with the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, military and civilian medical personnel within the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham and the European Centre for Environment and Human Health. He is also an Honorary Consultant in Human Factors & Simulation within the UK’s Hollier Medical Simulation Centre. Stone’s team also pioneered early developments in Virtual Heritage, notably Virtual Stonehenge (1996), complete with the world’s first virtual sunrise and accurate night-time sky (a revised version using gaming technologies was delivered to English Heritage in 2009) and Virtual Lowry, a project in which the artist’s Coming From The Mill painting was brought to life using VR techniques. This and other cultural heritage projects supported Stone and colleagues from the US and Japan to launch the international Virtual Systems & Multi-Media organisation and virtualheritage.net in 1997. He is also a trustee of the US Institute for the Visualization of History. Today, Stone continues research in the field of cultural heritage and is particularly interested in digital inclusion and public engagement, maritime heritage (including projects based on the 1914 loss of the submarine HMS A7, HMS Caroline and the Anne, a 17th Century ship of the line) and the exploitation of remotely controlled ground, air and underwater systems in support of heritage site surveys. His team has an exclusive relationship with the National Museum of the Royal Navy.
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 2007, he was awarded the UK Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors’ (previously the Ergonomics Society) 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). In 2011, he received the MoD Chief Scientific Advisor’s Commendation for his contribution to Defence Science & Technology – one of only four individual recipients in the UK. Later that year, his Defence Technology Centre Serious Games Team received the BAE Systems Chairman’s Silver Award for simulation research contributing to front line safety.
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: pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es103907m).
Stone, R.J., Panfilov, P.B., & Shukshunov, V.E. (2011). Evolution of Aerospace Simulation: From Immersive Virtual Reality to Serious Games. In Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Recent Advances in Space Technologies (RAST2011); Istanbul, Turkey; 9-11 June, 2011; pp.655-662.
Stone, R.J., Panfilov, P.B., & Shukshunov, V.E. (2011). Interactive Simulation Application to Aerospace RDET. In Proceedings of the 17th European Conference for Aerospace Sciences (EUCASS 2011); St Petersburg, Russia; 4-8 July.
Stone, R.J. (2012). Virtual Reality for Post-Operative Restoration and Rehabilitation. Clinical Front Line; Royal Centre for Defence Medicine; March.
Stone, R.J., & Guest, R. (2012). Virtual Scylla: Interactive 3D and Artificial Life for Marine Virtual Heritage. In Henderson, J. (Ed.), Beyond Boundaries, IKUWA 3; the 3rd International Congress on Underwater Archaeology. Römisch-Germanische Kommission/NAS Publications, Frankfurt; June, 2012; pp.485-491.
Stone, R.J. (2012). Virtual Burrator. Dartmoor News; 127 (July/August Issue).
Stone, R.J. (2012). “Human Factors Guidance for Designers of Interactive 3D and Games-Based Training Systems” (Second Edition); Human Factors Integration Defence Technology Centre Publication.
Stone, R.J., & Knight, J.F. (2012). “3D Displays: A Human-Centred Review”; Human Factors Integration Defence Technology Centre Publication HFIDTCPV_T2_2_2.
Stone, R.J., & Knight, J.F. (2012). “Virtual Environments for Rehabilitation”; Human Factors Integration Defence Technology Centre Publication HFIDTCPV_T2_4_2.
Knight, J.F., Stone, R.J., & Quan, C. (2012). Virtual Restorative Environments: Preliminary Studies in Scene, Sound and Smell. International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations (IJGCMS); 4(3) – Ludica Medica Special Issue; July-September, 2012; pp. 73-91.
Stone, R.J. (2013). State Cash for Gaming? I’ll Stick to Kickstarter, Thanks; The Conversation (theconversation.com); 04 September, 2013 (theconversation.com/state-cash-for-gaming-ill-stick-to-kickstarter-thanks-17857).
Cook, N.J., & Stone, R.J. (2013). RORSIM - A Warship Collision Avoidance Training Tool. Virtual Reality; 17(3); pp. 169-179.
Stone, R.J. (2013). High-Tech Over Burrator. Dartmoor News; 135 (November/December Issue).
Stone, R.J. (2014). The Virtual Reality Hype Train is Starting to Make Me Queasy. The Conversation (theconversation.com); 08 August, 2014 (theconversation.com/the-virtual-reality-hype-train-is-starting-to-make-me-queasy-30113).
Stone, R.J. (2014). Drones are Fun Toys Until You Get Hit in the Face by One. The Conversation (theconversation.com); 14 August, 2014 (theconversation.com/drones-are-fun-toys-until-you-get-hit-in-the-face-by-one-30389).
Stone, R.J. (2014). Small Multi-Rotor UAVs – Innocent Hobby or a High-Tech Disaster in the Making? The Ergonomist; 530; August 2014; pp. 8-9.
Stone, R.J., Guest, YR., Pahl, S., & Boomsa, C. (2014). Exploiting Gaming Technologies to Visualise Dynamic Thermal Qualities of a Domestic Dwelling: Technical & Human Factors Challenges. In Proceedings of BEHAVE 2014 (the third European Conference on Behaviour and Energy Efficiency); Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford; 03-04 September, 2014.
Stone, R.J. (2014). We’ve Invented the Holodeck! The Ergonomist; 531; September 2014; pp. 18-19.
Stone, R.J., Small, C., Knight, J.F., Qian, C., & Shingari, V. (2014). Virtual Environments for Healthcare Restoration and Rehabilitation. Invited Chapter (Part VI) in Ma, M., Jain, L.C., & Anderson, P. (Eds.), Virtual and Augmented Reality in Healthcare 1. Intelligent Systems Reference Library Volume 68; 2014; Springer‐Verlag: Heidelberg, Germany; pp. 497-521.
Stone, R.J., & Hannigan, F. (2014). Applications of Virtual Environments: An Overview. Invited Chapter (No. 36) in Hale, K.S. & Stanney, K.M. (Eds.), Handbook of Virtual Environments: Design, Implementation and Applications; 2014, Second Edition; CRC Press (Taylor & Francis); pp. 883-957.