Toby Howard :: Research interests and projects

►  The uncanny valley. Attempts to increase the quality of simulations of human attributes often reach a "creepiness" point. Why? A collaboration with Dr Ellen Poliakoff and Dr Emma Gowen. See E. Poliakoff, N. Beach, R. Best, T.L.J. Howard, and E. Gowen, "Can looking at a hand make your skin crawl? peering into the uncanny valley for hands." Perception, 42(9):998-1000, 2013. [DOI]

►  Virtual Reality as a Rehabilitative Technology for Phantom Limb Experience, investigating using virtual environments for treating phantom limb pain in amputees. Current work is focusing on replacing the cumbersome wired-tracker technology we have used in the past, with wireless body tracking.

►  Augmented Reality, with preliminary work on an interactive display for public engagement.


►  Novel interfaces for interactive drawing using 2D and 3D computer graphics, with PhD student Xin Bao. And some recent work with MSc student Kevin Brydon (using OpenGL):


And with MSc student Alfred Massard (using Java3D):


►  A related long-term interest is the brain-computer interface.

Previous projects

►  Daedalus. Realistically lit interactive virtual environments for architectural design.

►  Virtual environments for psychology research.Telepresence and Telepathy in Immersive Virtual Reality, used immersive virtual environments to test for telepathic effects:

► Augmented Reality Image Synthesis (ARIS). Augmenting photographs with correctly illuminated objects in real time (gallery).

►  Virtual environments for crime scene investigation. We worked with Greater Manchester Police on the REVEAL project, investigating reconstructing crime scenes using virtual environments with accurate global illumination.

►"VR for Large Scale-Applications" (VRLSA) concentrated on the development of industrial applications and resulted in the release of our MAVERIK VR kernel.

Recent Publications

Below are my most recent academic publications (or see my complete publications list). For my non-academic writing, including journalism and book reviewing, please see my writing page.

Xin Bao and T.L.J. Howard. SEED: Sketch-based 3d model deformation. In Proceedings Nicograph 2014, May 2014. accepted for publication.

E. Poliakoff, N. Beach, R. Best, T.L.J. Howard, and E. Gowen. Can looking at a hand make your skin crawl? peering into the uncanny valley for hands. Perception, 42(9):998-1000, 2013. [ DOI ]

T.L.J. Howard. Turing's contributions to the early Manchester computers. In S. Barry Cooper and Jan van Leeuwen, editors, Alan Turing: His Work and Impact. Elsevier, 2013. ISBN 978-0123869807.

A. Albin-Clark, T.L.J. Howard, and B. Anderson. Simulating Characters for Observation. In Proceedings of the International Conference of Computer Graphics Theory and Applications (GRAPP), Feb 2012.

S. Pettifer, T.L.J. Howard, I. Lieberman, B. Blundell, and D. Edwards. An immersive virtual environment for phantom limb pain rehabilitation. In Proceedings of the International Conference of Computer Graphics Theory and Applications (GRAPP), Feb 2012.

A. Albin-Clark, T.L.J. Howard, and B. Anderson. Real-time Computer Graphics Simulation of Blockplay in Early Childhood. Computers & Education, 57(4):2496-2504, 2011. DOI:10.1016/j.compedu.2011.07.004.

A. Albin-Clark, T.L.J. Howard, and B. Anderson. Visualisation of Blockplay in Early Childhood. In Proceedings of Theory and Practice of Computer Graphics, pages 53-60, Warwick, 2011. Eurographics.

(... see my complete publications list)

Research student supervision

►  PhD
  • Xin Bao (2010-2014), "Sketch-based intuitive 3D model deformations" (awarded)
  • Adrian Albin-Clark (2008-2012), "Simulation of block play in early childhood" (awarded)
  • Rezwan Sayeed (2007-2010), "Non-photorealistic rendering on the GPU" (awarded)
  • Russell Broughton (2006-2009), "Plausibly augmenting virtual environments" (awarded)
  • Nicolas Gaborit (2006-2009), "Interaction Mechanisms in a Collaborative Large-scale Virtual Environment for Public Consultation" (awarded) [pdf]
  • Fabrice Caillette (2005-2009), "Real-Time Markerless 3-D Human Body Tracking" (awarded)  [pdf]


  • Yanwan Yan (2004), "Reconstruction of virtual environments from images and video" (awarded)

►  MSc Recently supervised (all awarded). (See my complete MSc supervision list)

  • A. Wise (2010) "Augmented reality for Public Engagement"
  • P. Clegg (2010) "Augmented Reality for mobile Architectural Visualisation"
  • K. Lam (2009) "Speedy sketching"
  • S. Li (2008) "Crowd simulation"
  • A. Kaiyais (2008) "Speedy sketching"
  • K. Brydon (2007) "Sketching in 2D"
  • A. Massard (2007) "Suggestion-enhanced sketching in 3D"
  • H. Ioannides (2005) "A testbed for non-photorealistic rendering"
  • R. Mooloo (2005) "Semi-automatic creation of training scenes"
  • R. Lacroute (2005) "Tools for crime scene analysis"
  • J. Jacombs (2004) "Computer graphics methods of crime scene analysis"
  • F. Fauque (2004) "A virtual environment for crowd management"