Extending worlds - XR expert Katharina Krösl in portrait
The profession of "researcher" is extremely multifaceted and exciting. There is always something new to learn, new ways to evolve and develop new technologies and solutions to help people. In this portrait, our XR expert Katharina Krösl gives us a glimpse into her everyday life in interdisciplinary research.
Katharina Krösl is a researcher in the Multiple Senses Group at VRVis and a specialist for application-oriented XR solutions. Her research primarily covers extended reality and medicine, psychology, architecture, spatial planning, and lighting design. In the context of her interdisciplinary research work, she collaborates with many different people on a daily basis, and above all, she brings many topics and disciplines together.
The many facets of doing research
There is no such thing as a typical working day or an average week for Katharina Krösl. Perhaps, this might make the life of a researcher a bit stressful at times, but above all, it is full of variety.
After all, researchers usually have to balance a lot of things during a working week - from meetings to programming or writing publications to teaching, mentoring, and reviewing duties. Katharina Krösl "not only" works on ongoing research projects but also develops new ideas and writes project proposals, gives a lecture on color and visual perception at the TU Wien, and much more. That is why her work week always starts with an overview and by updating her to-do list: Which major tasks need to be taken care of? What meetings, milestones, and deadlines are coming up? And - equally important: How are the colleagues doing in their projects?
There are no such things as ivory towers
In research, one looks after each other. On the one hand, this means taking a very close look in collaborative projects so as to understand how different application and practice fields work and to develop the best solutions.
Whether it's developing new VR or AR features, coming up with ideas for or improving scientific publications, or exploring completely new paths, working together allows for more creative thinking, better and faster problem-solving, and more fun in research. Furthermore, it is vital that everyone in the team have the same vision and goal in mind.
Collaborative research is collective forward-thinking
Since there has been a significant technological advance over the past few years, a lot is going on in extended reality research, which encompasses virtual, augmented, and mixed reality - and even more is possible. An important platform for the exchange of new research results, projects, and ideas are scientific conferences like the IEEE VR, where Katharina Krösl is represented in several roles this year - as poster chair, panelist, and paper author - and has also been repeatedly recognized for her research. Especially for the XR community, the question of what constitutes a successful conference in times of a pandemic is exciting - after all, virtual environments offer countless opportunities for interaction and social exchange beyond pure lectures and talks.
To date, "social" aspects like direct scientific exchange, informal discussion of ideas, and making new contacts for future collaborations have often been overlooked in online conference formats. Virtual environments such as Gather.Town, Mozilla Hubs, or Virbela extend the possibilities of virtual conferences in this regard, making attending online conferences attractive to researchers and students who are unable to travel to the conference for various reasons.
At the heart of the network
Katharina Krösl is very well connected in the scientific community and collaborates with researchers from Germany and abroad. She is also very active in numerous International Program Committees, is frequently involved in the organization of conferences, and is in demand internationally as a reviewer of scientific papers in the fields of XR, AR, and VR.
Because it is particularly important for female researchers in the technical field to establish strong networks right from the start of their careers to exchange ideas and share experiences, Katharina Krösl and several colleagues founded IEEE Women in Engineering Austria a few years ago. This community supports women in engineering in building a network and highlights outstanding achievements by female researchers to the broader public through awards. As Katharina Krösl is convinced: Role models are much needed!
From a love for " computer stuff" to interdisciplinary cutting-edge research
When Katharina Krösl started studying computer science at the TU Wien, there were only a handful of female role models. At university, she soon discovered her passion for computer graphics and became acquainted with the world of research in the course of her master's thesis at VRVis.
With her PhD project "XREye", the computer scientist fully entered the interdisciplinary XR research: Together with partners from the TU Wien, the Medical University of Vienna and Columbia University, Krösl developed new VR solutions that enable a better understanding of people with visual impairments, whether in public spaces, medicine, or in the field of lighting design. The question of how extended reality technologies can make the world more accessible and inclusive for all people continues to be one of the core questions in the research work. Her projects and publications on this topic have already received numerous awards and have been featured in various media reports. Here, as well, recognition is a key factor in raising the visibility of XR research and the many "new worlds" that Katharina Krösl and her colleagues are yet to discover.