Analyis of a master thesis

Kuliraniyil Jose, Shibu: HOW REAL IS THE VIRTUAL? AN ONTOLOGICAL INTROSPECTION INTO VIRTUAL REALITY. unabr. Masters’ thesis. University of Innsbruck. Innsbruck 2019


In the Master’s thesis “How real is the virtual? An ontological introspection into virtual reality” from Shibu Jose Kuliraniyil, the author poses the question of ‘reality’ in a virtual world, which by its very addition of ‘virtual’ does not seem to be real. He discusses both the definition of the concept and the development of virtual spaces, as well as the advantages and disadvantages that exist around the topic. Furthermore, Kuliraniyil ties in current examples from the state of the art around virtual reality. The author’s main wish is to give the readers a better understanding of virtual reality with the help of his work and at the same time to list and compare the different approaches to the topic.

Level of design

The written pdf file has a very clear and simple form in terms of layout and design. Written in a classic font, it contains both recurring line spacing and legible paragraphs, which drives the reading flow throughout. This indicates that there was most likely a uniform university thesis template. As for the colour scheme of the Master’s thesis, it is kept very simple: Black writing on pure white paper. Citations are not noticeable at first glance, as they have been cleverly worked into the justification. Only when you look more closely at the footnotes do you realise that a lot of citations have been made. The bibliography is a real battleground when it comes to paragraph shifts and different font formatting.

degree of innovation

The topic of virtual reality is more topical than ever and is already being used purposefully in many fields of work. However, the thesis question is very vaguely defined and leaves far too much room for interpretation. With a more interesting main question, the master’s thesis would definitely be more worth reading, but in its current form it resembles a thick textbook from an upper secondary school with a focus on computer science.


The work appears to be written in the same way through and through, which leads me to conclude that the likelihood of cheating is very low. The text feels like it was written by one person alone from start to finish without help from others.
The work itself is very dependent on further supporting literature, as many passages are worded in a way that is very incomprehensible to lay people.

outline and structure

Kuliraniyil divides his work into three main parts: Exploring Virtual Reality, Advantages and Disadvantages of Virtual Reality and a Philosophical Questioning of the Concept of Virtual Reality. There are thus 3 main chapters, each with 3-5 sub-chapters. These are in turn split into sub-sub-chapters. In my opinion, the 4th subdivision into sub-sub-chapters is not necessary and makes the table of contents unnecessarily long, especially since some chapters are no longer than half a page. The entire work is very theoretically structured and contains no physical workpiece that is described. However, I find the division into three sections very pleasant, as one is thus forced to deal with the topic in different ways.

degree of communication

As far as the level of communication of the work is concerned, as a person who has already dealt with the topic a bit, I feel that the written text is quite understandable. However, many terms are probably too sophisticated for every reader to understand the content of the work. In my eyes, it also seems as if the work was translated into English after the fact, as many words are very stilted and forced into the sentence structure. On the plus side, the author does elaborate on some of the difficult-to-understand terms in the footnotes.

scope of work

The Master’s thesis “HOW REAL IS THE VIRTUAL? AN ONTOLOGICAL INTROSPECTION INTO VIRTUAL REALITY” deals with an enormously extensive topic. In my opinion, the master’s thesis was written without a concrete question, which makes the elaboration very superficial and much too far-reaching. Many questions are answered that no one has asked and therefore I find that the text feels more like an encyclopaedia entry than actually a well thought-out master’s thesis. The author covers too many topics and gives a very general overview of Virtual Reality.

orthography and accuracy

Due to the imprecision in defining the topic, the text initially feels uncharitable. However, the care with which the individual chapters were written should not be underestimated. It is noticeable that the author personally cares about the content of his work and has dealt with the topic sufficiently. The text is very clean and even a quick read-through does not reveal any gross spelling mistakes or the like. All in all, the Master’s thesis seems well thought out.


The bibliography is a formal disaster; it switches between italics and normal, links to further reading are blue and underlined and the paragraph jumps back and forth constantly. There is no list of figures, but this is due to the fact that there are no illustrations. As far as the literature itself is concerned, there are many books and online documents, but you also find a lot of Wikipedia articles, which indicates not very qualitative research. At the end of the directory, I was very disappointed, as the work had seemed very credible until then and.


All in all, it can be said that the content of Shibu Jose Kuliraniyil’s Master’s thesis was written to a very high standard. However, the design of the thesis was completely disregarded and no qualitative literature was used. I recognise the effort that went into the writing of the thesis, the design and structure of the master’s thesis are fine.

Try of a first interview draft

Characteristics of each interview according to Haller (2001)

  1. The answer may be refused without negative consequences.
  2. There is a fixed distribution of roles between the questioner and the answerer.
  3. The questioner follows an information goal, which he wants to find out through his questions.
  4. The answers of the interviewee are bound to the questions and can be of a factual as well as a private nature.
  5. There are different perceptions between the questioner and the answerer, as both individuals pursue different goals.1

The 3 journalistic interview types according to Haller (2001)

The first tool I would like to use to get more information about V-“Tubing in Austria” is the research interview.
In order to gain a realistic insight into the creation of a virtual Youtuber, I will use the research interview to talk to some players in the domestic industry. According to Haller (2001), interviews of this kind are primarily about obtaining information in the course of a research, as well as verifying it. Less decisive are personal characteristics and presentation of the person.2
In the case of my Master’s thesis, the interviewees will be Austrian vtubers, because I want to record the entire process of character creation of their virtual avatars. The objective is to analyse both the factual aspect and the personal relationship to the artificial figures and to prepare them step by step in order to make it easier for future designers, influencers or online streamers (to name just a few of the players in the vtuber environment) to enter the industry.

Furthermore, I am interested in the interviewees’ opinions on topics of self-perception on the internet, as well as their decision to remain anonymous, or the extent to which they do so. This leads me to the second type of interview according to Haller (2001), which I would like to include in my survey – the reportage interview.
Since VTubers are also artists in a certain way, I am particularly interested in the personal relationship to the virtual avatar. Self-expression is in the foreground and is not subject to any compulsion for information. Haller (2001) writes about directing the focus on personality traits of the interviewee and acting more as a moderator. This way of gathering information also gives an overall impression of the interviewee and the setting in which this person is thematically situated.3

I would like to do without the interview as a form of presentation in my Master’s thesis, as it does not seem useful for researching the topic and getting to know individual protagonists.

Relevant interview subjects and objectives of my master thesis will address the following topics:

Part 1 – About the person + practice

  • Personal aspect of the interviewee on the topic (background, role models, access…)
  • Role distribution of design, implementation and use of the concept of the own virtual character (visual and acoustic appearance, character creation, content of the performance)
  • Background information on the creation process of the own virtual character (in case of self-creation of the avatar, otherwise further information on key persons)
  • Common means and resources of domestic representatives for the creation of a 2D or 3D model
  • Creative content of online performances and common platforms of live broadcasts
  • Creation costs and turnover of an avatar for protagonists (designers, artists, performers)

Part 2 – intercultural perception

  • Personal attitude to the topic of anonymity in real life and online (opinion on the advantages and disadvantages of using a virtual avatar online).
  • Possible adaptation concepts in the already existing media landscape in Austria
  • Self-perception of the own art figure in Austria
  • Perception of the current Austrian Vtuber scene (popularity, effect on outsiders, efficiency, …)
  • Hypotheses on reasons for the different popularity of European vtubers compared to performers abroad (Asia, Central America, …)
  • Personal perception of animated content in the public media environment (television, social media, streaming, etc.)
  • Prognosis of a possible future for vtubers in Austria/personal prognosis (increase in the relevance of virtual influencers)
  • Hypotheses on future occupational fields and career opportunities in the design industry (The abandonment of character design for vtubers as a market niche)

As a further step, I plan to create a survey on the perception of Vtubers in Austria. This should happen at the same time as the debut of my own, self-created virtual character, in order to get a direct reaction from a larger audience.
I will create a Youtube video and analyse the perception of the performance for relevant aspects in the setting of a questionnaire online.

  • 1 cf. Haller 2001, p. 129.
  • 2 cf. ebda, p. 135f.
  • 3 cf. ebda, p. 138f.

Next steps:

  • Creating a first interview draft
  • Defining main research questions
  • Structure master thesis
  • search for literature


Haller, Michael (Hrsg.) et al.: Das Interview. Ein Handbuch für Journalisten. 3. ed. Konstanz: UVK 2001 (= Praktischer Journalismus, 6)

Augmented and Virtual Reality Exhibitions

Museums and exhibitions aim to bring their collections to live. Since the ongoing development of augmented and virtual reality technologies it seems obvious to integrate them in the classical exhibitions. Through the usage of AR and VR technologies, museums can add a virtual layer to their exhibitions and create immersive experiences. Some areas of application could, for example be, allowing users to explore Egyptian burial chambers, meet historical characters or find out more about an artist by virtually visiting their hometown.

As part of a study, the Research Centre of Excellence in Cyprus (RISE) has interviewed 15 global museums about their experience in including AR and VR technologies in their exhibitions. Around 50% of them stated, that they made use of these technologies in order to create an augmented spaces for visitors to experience the exhibition, for example in form of a virtual time travel. They integrated VR and AR experiences in their exhibitions as an extension to the classic exhibitions, instead of outclassing them.

Another possibility to create a virtual exhibition can be done by scan exhibitions and arrange them in a virtual space. In this way, exhibitions can be accessible from all around the world. It could also enable a larger audience, for example disabled people, to visit exhibitions they could not visit in the real life.


Mona Lisa: Beyond Glass


The Virtual Reality experience “Mona Lisa: Beyond Glass” was part of the Leonardo da Vinci blockbuster exhibition taken place at the Louvre in Paris, in October 2019. Through the use of animated images, interactive design and sound, it allowed the users to explore it’s details, the wood panel texture and how it has changed over the time.


The National Museum of Finland enabled their visiters a virtual time travel back to the year 1863, by letting the users walking inside the painting “The Opening of he Diet 1863 by Alexander II” by R. W. Ekman. In this VR experience the visitors could speak with the emperor and representatives of the different social classes or visit historical places.


AR in Education #2: Comparing XR, AR, VR & MR

Hello again! My second blog entry will be about the the differences between four concepts: Extended Reality (XR), Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR).

XR, AR, VR, MR,… What??

Extended Reality (XR): XR is a “catch-all”-term for technologies that enhance or replace our view of the real world. This can be done through overlaying or immersing computer text and graphics into real-world and virtual environments, or even a combination of both. XR encompasses AR, VR and MR.

Augmented Reality (AR): AR enhances our view of the real world by overlaying the real-world environment with digital content across multiple sensory modalities. It detects objects in the real-world environment and overlaps those with computer-generated data such as graphics, sounds, images, and texts. In other words: AR comines the real world with the digital world. Users can experience AR very easily through an smartphone application, but also through special AR wearables (i.e. headsets, glasses), displays, projectors or even contact lenses.

Virtual Reality (VR): While AR enhances the user’s real environment, VR completely replaces it with a virtual one. By using full-coverage headsets the user’s real-world surroundings are completely shut out while using. Advanced VR experiences  even allow users to move in a digital environment and hear sounds. Moreover, special hand controllers can be used to enhance VR experiences.

Mixed Reality (MR): MR is the newest of these immersive technologies and combines aspects of AR and VR. When experiencing MR, virtual content is not only overlaid on the real environment (as in AR) but is anchored to and interacts with that environment. Instead of relying only on remote control devices, smart glasses, or smartphones, users can also use their gestures, glancing or blinking, and much more to interact with the real and the digital world at the same time. 

Long Story short:

  • Extended Reality (XR) is an umbrella term for technologies that enhance or replace our view of the real world
  • Augmented Reality (AR) overlays virtual objects on the real-world environment
  • Virtual Reality (VR) immerses users in a fully artificial digital environment
  • Mixed Reality (MR) not just overlays but anchors virtual objects to the real world

For a better understanding, I found this nice infographic:

Comparison of VR, AR and MR

Okay, got it. But why AR?

As far as I know at this point, all three techniques – AR, MR & VR – can be useful for educational purposes. The choice of the technology might depend on several factors like the field of education, the equipment or the target group. Still, I chose to focus on AR for several reasons: 1) I like the idea of learning new things by enhancing the user’s environmental view instead of replacing it like it is with VR (my subjective opinion); 2) AR is easily accessible via smartphones or tablets, while VR and MR need more advanced technology (i.e. headsets). There might come up more advantages (and maybe some limitations and disadvantages too) the further I dive into the topic, let’s see. But that’s it for now! 🙂





Arm Blueprint. (2021, 11. August). xR, AR, VR, MR: What’s the Difference in Reality? Verfügbar unter: 

RubyGarage. (2021, 27. August). VR vs AR vs MR: Differences and Real-Life Applications. 

Vsight. (2021, 9. Oktober). The difference between AR, VR, and MR. Verfügbar unter: