I am a Senior Lecturer at the Division of Informatics, School of Business, Economics and IT at University West focusing on Virtual and Mixed Reality. I have worked with Virtual Reality since around 2000, first as a research engineer developing VR systems and then as a researcher focusing on connecting VR-technology to an understanding of human cognition and human brain function. During my PhD-research I was associated with Umeå center for Functional Brain Imaging.

After finishing my PhD at Umeå University in 2013 I briefly held a position at the University of Skövde (Senior Lecturer 2013-2014) focusing on computer game development and design. This was followed by a position in Gothenburg (Associate Senior Lecturer 2014-2019) covering interaction design, visualization and VR before ending up in Trollhättan, from 2018.

Among my primary interests are the foundations in cognitive neuroscience for phenomena related to VR and gaming, such as presence and engagement, and the application of such understanding to benefit the design of VR and Mixed Reality computer applications.

Human brains and virtual realities

My doctoral thesis, Human brains and virtual realities - Computer generated presence in theory and practice focuses on how theory about human brain function can be integrated with brain measurements in virtual environments to inform and guide the development of realistic computer applications designed "for the brain".

Thesis Abstact

A combined view of the human brain and computer-generated virtual realities is motivated by recent developments in cognitive neuroscience and human-computer interaction (HCI). The emergence of new theories of human brain function, together with an increasing use of realistic human-computer interaction, give reason to believe that a better understanding of the relationship between human brains and virtual realities is both possible and valuable. The concept of “presence”, described as the subjective feeling of being in a place that feels real, can serve as a cornerstone concept in the development of such an understanding, as computer-generated presence is tightly related to how human brains work in virtual realities.

In this thesis, presence is related both to theoretical discussions rooted in theories of human brain function, and to measurements of brain activity during realistic interaction. The practical implications of such results are further developed by considering potential applications. This includes the development and evaluation of a prototype application, motivated by presented principles.

The theoretical conception of presence in this thesis relies on general principles of brain function, and describes presence as a general cognitive function, not specifically related to virtual realities. Virtual reality (VR) is an excellent technology for investigating and taking advantage of all aspects of presence, but a more general interpretation allows the same principles to be applied to a wide range of applications.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to study the working human brain in VR. Such data can inform and constrain further discussion about presence. Using two different experimental designs we have investigated both the effect of basic aspects of VR interaction, as well as the neural correlates of disrupted presence in a naturalistic environment.

Reality-based brain-computer interaction (RBBCI) is suggested as a concept for summarizing the motivations for, and the context of, applications building on an understanding of human brains in virtual realities. The RBBCI prototype application we developed did not achieve the set goals, but much remains to be investigated and lessons from our evaluation point to possible ways forward. A developed use of methods and techniques from computer gaming is of particular interest.

Contact information

  • Daniel Sjölie
  • School of Business, Economics and IT
  • Division of Informatics
  • University West
  • SE-461 86 Trollhättan
  • Sweden
  • Email:
  • Phone: +46 (0)520 223563




  • Research engineer at VRlab, Umeå university, 2001-2008. Virtual reality and interactive 3d-graphics programming and development. Includes teaching.
  • PhD student, Umeå university, 2008-2013. Focus on human-computer interaction and cognition, connected to hard computing science like interactive simulations and numeric analysis. Includes teaching.
  • Senior lecturer, University of Skövde, 2013-2014. Teaching and master thesis supervision. Primarily related to computer graphics, computer games and web programming.
  • Associate senior lecturer, University of Gothenburg, 2014-2019. Lecturing and research. Interaction design and visualization with a focus on virtual/mixed/augmented reality.
  • Senior lecturer, University West, 2018-. My current position. Lecturing and research. Virtual/mixed/augmented reality.

Selected publications

See publications or my ResearchGate profile for a complete listing.

Program committees and organizing


  • Best paper at ICAT-EGVE 2014
    • Daniel Sjölie, Grégoria Kalpouzos, Johan Eriksson Neural correlates of disrupted presence: strange disruptions in a naturalistic virtual environment

Invited talks


I've been course responsible for five courses, relating to computer graphics, introductory programming, game design and development, information visualization and cognitive perspectives on HMI. Three of these I created from scratch. I've done many guest lectures about artificial intelligence, advanced computer graphics and virtual/mixed reality, and I have done a lot of supervision and grading related to student assignments and projects.

Technical expertise

I've been programming for 25+ years. I have a Master of Science in Computing Science and I have worked with software development as a research engineer and as part of my PhD studies. I've used more than 10 different programming languages seriously and tried many more. I've used and developed on Windows, Linux and OS X, and I've tried app development for both iOS and Android. I've programmed and developed 3d-graphics applications in everything from assembler to javascript, including software like Unreal Engine, Maya and 3D Studio Max.

Undergraduate education

Master of science in Computing science

Umeå universitet, Umeå, 1996 – 2002

The education largely focused on programming and software development. Towards the end of the education, I focused mainly on courses in computer graphics and artificial intelligence. Good performance on the course in "Virtual Reality" (which later changed its name to "Advanced Computer Graphics") led to a position as research engineer at VRlab in the following years.

In my master’s thesis I implemented an AI toolkit for controlling virtual characters in a virtual 3D environment.

Natural science high-school

Östraboskolan, Uddevalla, 1993 – 1996

In high school I learned computer graphics programming on my own and implemented, e.g., a simulation of the solar system as a graduation project.

Additional non-academic experience

Military service

Platoon commander, Swedish artillery, A9, Kristinehamn, 1997 – 1998, 12 months.

Nonprofits and politics

Since high school I have often participated in a variety of associations and boards, several times as chairman. For example, I have served as chairman of the board in my previous condo association and in political youth organizations at local and district levels. My political involvement has also led to 8 years in the Environment and Health Committee in Umeå, and 4 years as a lay judge in the Administrative Court.




    Visualizing air quality in different city scenarios, including vegetation.

    My work focuses on the visualization in Unreal Engine and VR interaction.


    Virtual Reality application for training and education of Welding and Metallurgy at University West.

    Image above shows student work providing the basis for the project.


    Digital Twins Cities Center.

    My work focuses on data visualization in Unreal Engine, here showing 10,000+ streamlines in realtime.

    Selected previous projects


    Creating a user controlled mixed reality to bridge the real and the virtual.

    Focus is on retaining as much of the strengths of VR as possible, while addressing weaknesses such as isolation and lacking awareness of the physical surroindings.


    Cognitive training in realistic and adaptive virtual environments. Combining realistic 3d-environments with tested cognitive training task and EEG-based interactive adaption.

    Also considers serious gaming aspects in order to increase motivation and the potential of brain measurements.


    Investigating the neural correlates of prospective memory using virtual reality and functional MRI.

    Also looks into issues of disrupted presence by analysing brain measurements related to a verbal protocol gathered directly after the scanning.


    Stroke rehabilitation using stereoscopic display and haptic interaction/feedback.


    Simulating left neglect in virtual reality. With tracked hands, free movement in an apartment (using a wheelchair) and simulated physics for direct interaction.

    Student projects (supervisor)

    Virtual Reality Operating System

    In this project, a concept VR OS user interface (UI) was developed, and different interaction patterns were developed and evaluated. Several concept applications were developed and evaluated in user tests.

    Bachelor's project at Chalmers 2017.

    Virtual Reality Car Driving Simulator

    Car driving simulator developed for use with consumer Virtual Reality equipment (Oculus Rift, HTC Vive) implemented using Unreal Engine.

    Bachelor's project at Chalmers 2016.

    Mixed Reality game

    Mixed Reality (MR) Real-Time Strategy (RTS) game developed for consumer Virtual Reality equipment (Oculus Rift, HTC Vive) implemented using Unreal Engine. Relies on Leap Motion hand tracking and matching a real table to create an interactive MR game environment.

    Bachelor's project at Chalmers 2016.

    Mixed Reality in Education

    Project course for Interaction Design Master students autumn 2015.