Portrait of Mar Gonzalez Franco

Mar Gonzalez Franco



I am a researcher at Microsoft Research. I am also Honorary Research Fellow at the EVENT-Lab in University of Barcelona. In my research I try to achieve strong immersive experiences using different disciplines: Virtual Reality, computer graphics, computer vision and haptics. All while studying human behavior, perception and neuroscience.

Before joining MSR, I graduated top class in Computer Science from Universitat Ramon LLull, in Barcelona 2008 and completed a Master in Biomedical Engineering in a join program between Universitat de Barcelona and Tsinghua University in China 2010. In 2014 I earned my PhD in Immersive Virtual Reality and Clinical Psychology under the supervision of Prof. Mel Slater at the EVENT-Lab, affiliated as a visiting student at the MIT MediaLab – Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During my PhD I produced anarchic hand experiences into healthy humans (link), as well as stabbed their virtual hands (link), indeed virtual reality is probably the only platform where you can do all of that and get away with the ethics committee. Altogether to explore how our brain perceives our body and search the underlying mechanisms that determine what is real and what is not. Technologically I was using real-time computer graphics, HMDs and body tracking systems. I then did a post-doc at the University College London’s Virtual Environments and Computer Graphics (UCL-VECG) group. Willing to impact larger audiences I pivoted into industrial laboratories; I created and led an immersive tech lab at Airbus Group and later joined Traity as a Research Scientist, working on the creation of reputation standards for a user base of 4.5M.


  • Stanford University. November 28, (Seminar + Visit)
  • Society for Neuroscience 2017. Washington DC, November 11-15 (attending)
  • Grace Hopper Celebration 2017, Orlando, October 4-6 (Microsoft Ambassador)
  • Microsoft Faculty Summit 2017. The Edge of AI. July 17-18 (panel session organizer)
  • EXF17 Experience Fighters, Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain, “Illusions in Virtual Reality”, June 21-22 (invited speaker, 500 attendees)
  • Women in VR, Innoarea, ValenciaLab, May 3 2017 (invited speaker)
  • e3iVR, University of Wisconsin, Madison WI, USA, “Ethics in the investigational and interventional uses of immersive Virtual Reality”, April 26-27 (invited speaker)

Professional Activities

  • Editorial Roles: Since 2016 Review Editor for Virtual Environments at Frontiers in ICT and Frontiers in Robotics and AI.
  • Conference Committee: Technical Program ACM MM (2017), Technical Program ACM MMSys Special Session on Immersive Experiences (2017), Panelist IEEE VR (2012), VERE Symposium Chair (2011), Workshop BCI Interaction (2009)
  • Journal Peer Reviewer: TOCHI, IEEE Transactions on Multimedia (2017), Frontiers in ICT (2016), Frontiers in Human Neuroscience (2014), Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments (2014), Journal of Intelligent and Robotic Systems (2013)
  • Conference Peer Reviewer: IEEE VR (2016, 2017), IEEE ISM (2016), ACM UIST (2016), ACM MM (2016)
  • Expert Evaluator: Future and Emerging Technologies, Horizon 2020, European Commission (2016); Expert – Los 100 de COTEC (2017).

Interns and Students
Christopher Berger – Visiting Researcher, Karolinska Institutet
Baihan Lin – Visiting Student, Columbia University
2015 (at Airbus)
Rodrigo Pizarro – Intern, Universitat de Barcelona
Jacob Thorn – Intern, University College London

Academic Collaborators
Ana Tajadura-Jiménez (U Carlos III de Madrid & UCL)
Antonella Maselli (U Santa Lucia – Roma)

Download Full CV


* Image by Dan DeLong




Media Coverage

My work has been covered by media such as Techcrunch, The Verge, Inverse, Vice Motherboard, GeekWire, Fortune Magazine, The World Economic Forum, El Pais, Techradar, Euronews, ABC…


VICE, Motherboard: “Virtual Reality Makes Avatars More Important Than Ever”

Inverse: “VR isn’t going to be like LSD… its going to be much better”

El Pais: “Una española de 31 años impulsa el proyecto estrella de Microsoft”

ABC, Australia: “Siri, Cortana, Alexa: Female virtual assistants a dominant force” http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-10/addiction-risks-as-vr-gets-set-to-take-the-market-by-storm/8252614

TechCrunch: “Microsoft researchers sound off on the next decade in tech”

GeekWire: “17 Microsoft researchers offer bold computer science predictions for 2017 and 2027”

Fortune Magazine: “Microsoft Researchers Predict What’s Coming in AI for the Next Decade”

World Economic Forum: “The future of AI? Here’s what Microsoft researchers think”

The Verge: “Microsoft researchers predict the search box will disappear by 2027”

Diario.es. Hoja de router “De Microsoft a Google: las mentes españolas que moldean la realidad virtual”

Euronews, Sci-tech Futuris, “A world without limits”

ARA, Science section, “This body I feel is yours or mine”

El Periodico: “Science is not fiction”


Other Coverage

TechVives: “Renowned Researchers Predict How Emerging Technology Will Look in a Decade”

TechRadar: “What to expect from Microsoft in 2017”

ABC, Australia: “Virtual Reality addiction threat prompts cautious approach as VR nears ‘smartphone-like’ take-off”

VRBoom: “VR Boom Brings Risk Of New Addiction”

NetworkWorld:”17 for ’17: Microsoft researchers’ predictions for 2017 and 2027″

eitb Radio Euskadi: “Con la realidad virtual generaremos experiencias multisensoriales”

Onda Cero: “Las experiencias y lo que se aprende con la realidad virtual luego se traslada al mundo real”

Noticias de Navarra, Deia: “Realidad virtual con sello Navarro”

TechRadar: “VR experiences will be the trippy drugs of the future, says Microsoft”

Tech.co: “Virtual Reality could make you hallucinate; don’t freak out” http://tech.co/virtual-reality-hallucinate-dont-freak-2016-12

RT: “Microsoft researchers say VR hallucinations & ‘living software’ to feature in next 10 years of tech”

The Sociable: “Microsoft Predicts Terence McKenna’s Cyberdelic Vision of Virtual Reality”

Diario de Navarra: “Una informatica Navarra entre los gurus del laboratorio de Microsoft”

El Confidencial: “Adiós a Google tal y como lo conoces: qué ocurrirá en 2027 (según Microsoft)”

Der Standard: “Microsoft-Forscherinnen blicken in die Zukunft: Virtual Reality als Halluzinations-Maschine”

艾瑞网, iresearch: “微软研究院:搜索框将在2027年消失 搜索无处不在”

CNET France: “Semaine du code : Microsoft fait appel aux femmes pour parler du future”

Techmundo Brasil: “Microsoft imagina fim da caixa de buscas em 2027, entre outras previsões”

MyNavi JP: “「検索ボックスはなくなる」、MSの女性研究者17人が来年と10年後を予想”

eWeek: “AI, VR, Chatbots to Take Off in 2017 Microsoft Researchers Predict”

Vesti.ru: “Microsoft: поисковая строка исчезнет к 2027 году”

Microsoft Next Blog: “17 for ’17: Microsoft researchers on what to expect in 2017 and 2027”

La Vanguardia, “Those who invent the future”

ARA, “The student at the center”

COM Radio, La xarxa, Eureka. “Year of the Neurobiology”, co-panelist with Prof. Mara Dierssen

COM Radio, La xarxa, “Teletransportation to London”