Jacquelyn Ford Morie started her VR career in 1989 when she joined the Institute for Simulation and Training’s VR Group in the Visual Systems Lab run by Dr. Michael Moshell. There she worked with Army Research Institute (ARI) scientists Witmer and Singer who developed the Presence and Immersive Tendencies Questionnaires, used extensively in early VR studies. She contributed to their perceptual and navigational studies for ARI. She also worked on programming and modeling for advance image generators, like those used for the SIMNET networked tank simulators created by Jack Thorpe. This led to her helping create the SIMNET database (especially the city of Kuwait) for the Battle of 73 Easting recreation, that largest expanse of virtual territory ever made for a simulator.
While at IST she also pioneered the concept of creating emotionally evocative VR, at a time when many offerings were simple and factual. With her partner, Mike Goslin, she created the VR called Virtopia, which had eight specially crafted VR worlds each designed to elicit different emotional responses. Virtopia was the first ever VR to be showcased at a film festival: The Florida Film Festival in Orlando in 1992 and again in a more advanced form in 1993.
Morie also worked with an after hour group of undergrad and high school students called the Toy Scouts, who were sponsored by Dr. Moshell and co-led by Dan Mapes (inventor of the VR gloves that eventually were marketed by FakeSpace Lab). The Scouts made full bodied immersive VR games that were shown at the 1994 and 1995 SIGGRAPH Conference.
Morie went on to help found the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies, where she continued her research into techniques that could predictably result in more evocative VR environments. Her work during this time included the invention of a scent collar for subtle VR smells and an infrasonic floor to elicit a visceral, though unheard, emotional response. Her main VR work from this time, DarkCon, is documented in her 2007 thesis, available at morie.org.
Her next VR work was called the Memory Stairs, consisted of several life event VR environments from before birth to near death, with a full range of 3D audio, scent and more. Dr. Morie continues her work in VR today, especially for meaningful applications. These include providing Mindfulness to soldiers in a networked social VR world (along with the Army Medical Command and the UCSD Center for Mindfulness). She has just completed a 3 year project for NASA to build a VR prototype “Holodeck” called ANSIBLE for astronauts who will be going on long duration space flights to places like Mars. ANSIBLE is expressly designed to mitigate the effects of sensory deprivation and social isolation of such long missions and has shown to be effective in a recent year long study in a Mars isolation habitat.