How VR became a key to unlocking animal behaviour

Using virtual reality to uncover the secrets of animal behaviour: Talk by Konstanz scientist Hemal Naik at the all-online IEEE VR 2020 meeting with opportunities for journalists to take part

For the last two decades, scientists have been using virtual reality (VR) to study behaviours of animals such as insects, fish, and rodents. VR systems allow for animals to be presented with visual material that reacts to their movements as in the real world. As such VR has become a reliable tool for studying vision, cognition, and decision-making in animals and animal groups. 

At 19:00 (Middle European Time, 14:00 Eastern Time) on Wednesday 25 March 2020, Konstanz researcher Hemal Naik will give an online talk as part of the 2020 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers meeting for Virtual Reality (IEEE VR 2020) on how VR has helped unleash new discoveries in animal behaviour and how these insights can be harnessed to improve the development of biologically inspired robots robots, smart sensors, and self-driving cars. Hemal Naik is a member of the Cluster of Excellence "Centre for the Advanced Study of Collective Behaviour" at the University of Konstanz and of the Konstanz-based Max Planck Institute of Animal Behaviour.

The IEEE VR 2020 meeting will take place online due to the current corona crisis; Hemal Naik‘s talk will be streamed.

Read the full story about using VR in animal behaviour research in the University of Konstanz’s online magazine,


  • The IEEE VR 2020, from March 22-26, will be an all-online format (due to coronavirus) and is fully accessible to anybody via Twitch. Registration is not required to access streams of the main program (talks, panels, and keynotes). Talks can be accessed via their website:
  • Hemal Naik’s talk will be streamed at this link:
    • TALK TITLE: Animals in Virtual Environments
    • SESSION: #23 Evaluation Methods
    • DATE/TIME/PLACE: Wednesday, 25 March 2020, 19:00–20:30 (Middle European Time, 14:00 Eastern Time), Studio 1
  • Original publication on the topic of VR in animal behaviour research: Hemal Naik; Renaud Bastien; Nassir Navab; Iain D. Couzin. Animals in Virtual Environments. IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics. DOI: 10.1109/TVCG.2020.2973063
  • Authors Hemal Naik and Professor Iain Couzin are members of the University of Konstanz‘s Cluster of Excellence "Centre for the Advanced Study of Collective Behaviour“, which is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), and       the Konstanz-based Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, Department of Collective Behaviour
  • About the University of Konstanz‘s online magazine, We use multimedia approaches to provide insights into our research and science, study and teaching as well as life on campus.