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Cardiff Met develops world-first synthetic reality laboratory



​​Cardiff School of Art and Design's Perceptual Experience Lab.


Researchers at Cardiff Metropolitan University's School of Art and Design have developed a brand new laboratory that replicates how humans perceive the world around them.

The Perceptual Experience Lab (PEL) is a synthetic reality facility that emulates human perceptual experience through immersion, directional sound, smell, air movement, temperature and vision.

This unique lab generates realistic simulations of environmental and social settings, providing academics and businesses with the opportunity to examine how people interact with the world around them.

Using head- and eye-tracking as well as brainwave and heart rate variability monitoring, the lab provides a setting for researchers in areas as diverse as computer gaming, psychology, product design and marketing. 

Cardiff Met Psychology colleagues will be using the lab to look into the subject of well-being, whilst researchers from the University's School of Sport are examining expertise and endurance.

Based in the School of Art and Design's brand new £14 million building, the lab builds upon the ground-breaking 'Fovolab' work that Professor Robert Pepperell and his team have undertaken which has re-written the age-old rules of how scientists and artists represent what humans see.

The Fovolab team investigates the perceptual structure of visual experience. They have identified the limitations of linear perspective, which is used today in equipment such as cameras, and was developed 500 years ago during the Italian Renaissance. They have developed a process called Fovography™ that captures the full field of view and presents it on a flat surface in a way that appears natural to human perceptions.

The PEL brings Fovography™ together with user-centred design and testing techniques developed by Professor Steve Gill and Dr Gareth Loudon and a concept for a mixed-reality lab developed by Bethan Gordon.

Speaking about the Perceptual Experience Laboratory, Cardiff School of Art & Design's Associate Dean for Research, Professor Steve Gill said:

"The Perceptual Experience Laboratory is a fantastic addition to Cardiff School of Art & Design's research environment.

"This unique facility has already become the hub of a series of interdisciplinary collaborations with subjects as varied as Food Science, Tourism, Computer Science and Sport."

The lab has received funding from the Welsh Government and European Structural Funding's 'Academics Expertise for Business' programme, Cardiff Met's Research & Enterprise investment and Research Innovation Award funds.