Welcome to the TRAVERSE website Transcending Reality - Activating Virtual environment Response through sensory enrichment

The far reaching aim of this project is to provide the means for ‘transcending reality’: to use virtual reality to transcend the self, whereby participants in an immersive virtual reality (IVR) may have the strong illusion of transforming their bodies, and therefore have experiences in virtual reality that are not possible in physical reality.

The goal is to use IVR for something that is genuinely new and uniquely possible within such systems, beyond the normal representational approach to VR which attempts mainly to faithfully simulate reality. We use the term 'transcending reality' (TR) in two ways as a noun phrase and a verb phrase. A 'transcending reality' is one that replaces physical reality by a virtual reality, such that you respond to the virtual reality as if it were real. However, the process of 'transcending reality' is the idea of exploiting virtual reality as a medium in its own right that can take us beyond the boundaries of physical constraints that can provide and sustain illusions beyond the boundaries of physical reality (for example, in transforming your own body).

In such 'non realistic' virtual reality we nevertheless expect participants to respond to it as a TR, and also we expect that some of the methods used for the latter will also help realise the former in applications that are supposed to be simulations of reality. The overriding background objective of this research can therefore be stated as: maximise the probability that participants will act as if the IVR were real (TR).

Principle Investigator: Mel Slater


vr experiment

A person wearing a head-mounted display and a body tracking suit is embodied as the virtual man. He sees his virtual body from a first person perspective, and it moves as he moves. He also sees mirror reflections and shadows. This scenario was used in an experiment describing a new approach to presence measurement

View Images:

The Cave showing an application running where there is interaction with a virtual character. The image is double because the Cave displays in stereo.

Achieving embodiment (A) A participant wears a head-mounted display and a body suit for real time motion capture (B) He sees a virtual body replacing his own, both when he looks down at his body and as shown here in a virtual mirror in front. As he moves the virtual body moves synchronously and congruently.

Several people inside the Cave during the inauguration event of 25th November, 2011.




  1. Slater , M., B. Spanlang, M. Sanchez-Vives, and O. Blanke, First person experience of body transfer in virtual reality. PLoS ONE, 2010(5): p. e10564. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0010564.
  2. Gonzalez-Franco, M., D. Perez-Marcos, B. Spanlang, and M. Slater The Contribution of Real-Time Mirror Reflections of Motor Actions on Virtual Body Ownership in an Immersive Virtual Environment in IEEE Virtual Reality. 2010, IEEE: Waltham, MA, US. p. 111-114.
  3. Normand, J.M., E. Giannopoulos, B. Spanlang, and M. Slater, Multisensory Stimulation Can Induce an Illusion of Larger Belly Size in Immersive Virtual Reality. PLoS ONE, 2011. 6(1): p. e16128. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0016128.
  4. Perez-Marcos, D., M.V. Sanchez-Vives, and M. Slater, Is my hand connected to my body? The impact of body continuity and arm alignment on the virtual hand illusion. Cognitive Neurodynamics, 2011. DOI: 10.1007/s11571-011-9178-5: p. 1-11.
  5. Kilteni, K., J.-M. Normand, M.V. Sanchez Vives, and M. Slater Extending the Body Space in Immersive Virtual Reality: A Very Long Arm Illusion: . Submitted, 2011.
  6. Slater, M., B. Spanlang, and D. Corominas, Simulating Virtual Environments within Virtual Environments as the Basis for a Psychophysics of Presence. ACM Transactions on Graphics (SIGGRAPH) (TOG), 2010. 29(3): p. Paper: 92.
  7. Yu, I., J. Mortensen, P. Khanna, B. Spanlang, and M. Slater, Visual realism enhances realistic response in an immersive virtual environmentñPart 2. IEEE Comput Graph Appl, 2011. 10.1109/MCG.2011.69
  8. Spanlang, B., J.M. Normand, E. Giannopoulos, and M. Slater GPU based Detection and Mapping of Collisions for Haptic Rendering in Immersive Virtual Reality, in IEEE International Symposium on Haptic Audio Visual Environments and Games (HAVE 2010). 2010, 41-44: Arizona State University, USA.
  9. Spanlang, B., J.-M. Normand, E. Giannopoulos, and M. Slater, A First Person Avatar System with Haptic Feedback in ACM Symposium on Virtual Reality Software and Technology (VRST 2010). 2010: Hong Kong. p. 47-50.
  10. Spanlang, B., D. Corominas, and M. Slater A Virtual Whole Body System, in Whole Body Interaction CHI2010. 2010: Atlanta, Georgia, US.
  11. Spanlang, B., J.-M. Normand, E. Giannopoulos, and M. Slater, High Performance Haptic Rendering Using Stream Processors in Immersive Virtual Reality. IEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement, 2011. invited submission.
  12. Beacco, A., B. Spanlang, C. Andujar, and N. Pelechano, A Flexible Approach for Output Sensitive Rendering of Animated Characters. Computer Graphics Forum, 2011. 30(8): p. 2328–2340.
  13. Pomés, A., B. Spanlang, J.R. Landin, P. Salgado-Pineda, and M. Slater, Using 3D virtual environments to assess hippocampal function during spatial navigation. An fMRI study, in 8th IBRO World Congress of Neuroscience (poster session). 2011: Florence, Italy.
  14. Spanlang, B., A. Pomés, J.R. Landin, P. Salgado-Pineda, and M. Slater Mimicking Someone Else Is Being Someone Else?, in 8th IBRO World Congress of Neuroscience (poster session). 2011.
  15. Pan, X., M. Gillies, C. Barker, D.M. Clark, and M. Slater, Socially Anxious and Confident Men Interact with a Forward Virtual Woman: An Experiment Study PLoS ONE A (April 2012):. PLoS One, 2012. 10.1371/journal.pone.0032931


Coordinator: Mel Slater

Mailing Address

Universitat de Barcelona
Facultat de Psicologia
Departament de Personalitat, Avaluació i Tractaments Psicològics, 
Campus de Mundet - Edifici Teatre, 
Passeig de la Vall d'Hebron 171, 
08035 Barcelona

Phone Numbers

Mel Slater: +34 93 403 9618
Lab: +34 93 403 1113


Campus Mundet of the Universitat de Barcelona is easily accessible from the centre of Barcelona by metro. Take the Line 3, Green Line, direction Canyelles/Trinitat Nova, and stop at MUNDET. Then you can walk up to the Theatre (10 minutes) or pick up the SHUTTLE bus.
When you arrive to Mundet metro and after you go up the first escalator from the platform you turn right. Ahead you will see another escalator.

Go up that and keep walking in the same direction you will come after 2-3 minutes to a place where people are waiting for a bus. This is a SHUTTLE bus that goes up and down the small hill all day long, where our group is located.

You get off the bus when most people get off, right at the top, after about 2 minutes. When you get off the bus you turn around 180degrees, you will see a square ahead, and on the left hand side is a Santander bank, and the right hand side you will see a building called "Teatre".

Buses: N4, B19, 27, 60, 73, 76 & 173, the bus stop is very near to the underground exit. 
By Car: Ronda de Dalt exit 4,

Hotels near the Metro Line 3 (Green Line)

Getting to Barcelona by air

Barcelona Airport: 20-30 minutes from the centre of Barcelona by bus, train or taxi
Girona Airport: 1 hour by train or 1 hour and a half by bus 
Reus Airport: 1 hour by train or 1 hour and a half by bus 
For information on all these three airports, see: http://www.aena.es

Transport from main Barcelona airport to the City Centre

Barcelona Airport is only about 30 minutes from the centre of Barcelona. The easiest way to get to Plaça de Catalunya is with the A1 Aerobus, which runs from outside the terminal direct to Plaça de Catalunya every 12-15 minutes from 7am until midnight. The train also runs direct to Plaça de Catalunya in 20 minutes, every 30 minutes. If taking a taxi, there are taxis available at all terminals and the fare is around € 30 to Plaça de Catalunya.

Transport within Barcelona City

You can buy tickets for individual journeys for the metro at € 1.30. A good option is to buy a T-10 ticket (€ 7.20, one zone) which gives you 10 trips on the metro, bus, FCG or train in the city. Once validated, it may be used for 1 hour and 15 minutes. You can use a T-10 for more than one person - just pass it through the metro gate or the validating machine on the bus as many times as there are passengers. The metro runs until 02.00 on Friday, continuous service on Saturday and up to midnight on any other day.

Barcelona's Tourist Information:




Invited Keynote Talks

  1. Body Representation in Immersive Virtual Reality. AAAS (American Association for the Advance of Science) Annual Meeting, Session From Artificial Limbs to Virtual Reality. Washington. United States. 19/02/2011. http://aaas.confex.com/aaas/2011/webprogram/Session2831.html
  2. The TRAVERSE Project. ERC Conference - Budapest, 20 June 2011: Promoting Excellence in Research in Europe. Budapest. Hungary. 20/06/2011. http://ercbudapest.teamwork.fr/docs/Programme-ERC-Conference-Budapest-2011.pdf
  3. Body Representation in Immersive Virtual Reality. 2011 Joint Virtual Reality Conference. United Kingdom. 21/09/2011. http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/jvrc2011/index.aspx
  4. Transforming the Self in Immersive Virtual Environments. AFIG 2011. Biarritz. France. 12/10/2011. http://www.journeesafrv-afig2011.estia.fr/programme.htm
  5. Transcending the Self – The Illusion of Body Ownership in Immersive Virtual Reality and its Impact on Behaviour. 12th International Multisensory Research Forum. Fukuoka. Japan. 17/10/2011. http://imrf.mcmaster.ca/IMRF/ocs3/index.php/imrf/2011/schedConf/

Other Conference Presentations

  1. 03/2011: Workshop on Embodied, Distributed and Extended Cognition, Department of Philosophy, University Autonoma of Barcelona, Poster Presentation, Antonella Maselli.
  2. 07/2011: Skills Summer School (Skills Learning and Virtual Environments), Castle of Gargonza, Arezzo, Italy, Poster Presentation, Antonella Maselli.
  3. Spanlang, B., A. Pomés, J.R. Landin, P. Salgado-Pineda, and M. Slater Mimicking Someone Else Is Being Someone Else?, in 8th IBRO World Congress of Neuroscience (poster session). 2011.
  4. K. Kilteni, poster on A Very Long Arm Illusion in "Embodied, Distributed and Extended Cognition: Philosophical Perspectives" 24-25 March, 2011, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona.
  5. K. Kilteni, poster on A Very Long Arm Illusion in SKILLS Summer School, 25th July, 2011.
  6. Pomes, A., B. Spanlang, J. R. Landin, P.-S. Pineda, M. Slater, E. Pomarol-Clotet and P. McKenna (2011). Using 3d virtual environments to assess hippocampal function during spatial navigation. An fMRI study. 8th IBRO World Congress of Neuroscience (Poster Session).

People working on TRAVERSE

Principal Investigator

Post Doctoral Researchers

Cave Manager

PhD Students

Software Developer/Technical Support

Technical Manager

Administrative Manager

Former Members