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Virtual Reality 7

Dates:2003/2004
Volume:7
Publisher:Springer-Verlag
Standard No:ISSN 1359-4338 (print) EISSN 1434-9957 (online)
Papers:24
Links:link.springer.com | Twitter | Table of Contents
  1. VR 2003-12 Volume 7 Issue 1
  2. VR 2004-04 Volume 7 Issue 2
  3. VR 2004-06 Volume 7 Issue 3/4

VR 2003-12 Volume 7 Issue 1

Storytelling in Virtual Environments BIBFull-Text 1
  L. Schäfer
Towards a narrative theory of virtual reality BIBAKFull-Text 2-9
  R. Aylett; S. Louchart
Virtual Reality (VR), by its nature and characteristics, is of specific interest to the AI community, particularly in the domains of Storytelling and Intelligent Characters. We argue that VR must be considered a particular narrative medium alongside Theatre, Literature or Cinema. This paper reviews relevant work in narrative theory from Plato onwards, including the work and theories of literary critics [1], cinema critics [2-4] and theatrical dramaturges [5], and analyses the specific characteristics of VR relevant to this theory. Less studied media such as Live Role Playing Games, improvisational drama and participatory drama are also considered. Finally, this document argues for a participatoryprocess-oriented narrative, with particular attention to the specificities and particularities of stories and their possible representation, adapted to the narrative medium Virtual Reality.
Keywords: Emergent narrative; Interactivity; Narrative theory; Storytelling; User experience; Virtual reality
Single-narrative, multiple point-of-view dramatic experiences in augmented reality BIBAKFull-Text 10-16
  B. MacIntyre; J. D. Bolter
Researchers and practitioners working on story-based experiences in virtual environments often make two assumptions. One assumption is that, to be compelling, such experiences must enable the user to make significant choices that alter the outcome of the story. Another is that virtual environments constitute a revolutionary new medium, and therefore that the techniques of earlier media, such as film and stage production, are no longer relevant. In designing story-based experiences in augmented reality, we have come to question these two assumptions. Three Angry Men, based on the teleplay and movie Twelve Angry Men, is an example of an augmented reality, dramatic experience with a fixed plot but multiple points of view.
Keywords: Augmented reality; Aura; Interactive drama; Point-of-view drama; Remediation
Staging exhibitions: methods and tools for modelling narrative structure to produce interactive performances with virtual actors BIBAKFull-Text 17-29
  M. Klesen; M. Kipp; P. Gebhard; T. Rist
CrossTalk is a self-explaining virtual character exhibition for public spaces. This paper presents the CrossTalk system, including its authoring tool SceneMaker and the CarSales exhibit. CrossTalk extends the commonplace human-to-screen interaction to an interaction triangle. The user faces two separated screens inhabited with virtual characters and interacts through a frontal touch screen. One screen features the exhibition's hostess, an agent who explains exchangeable exhibits located in the opposing screen. The current exhibit is CarSales, a demonstration of automatically generated dialogue, performed by virtual actors. The physical presence of the characters is established through the separation of screens and intensified by inter-character conversations across screens, tying hostess and exhibit together. CrossTalk utilises a combination of both automatically generated and pre-scripted scenes, and a context memory to adapt to the user and the environment. CrossTalk's authoring tool SceneMaker, in a strict separation of narrative structure and content, provides non-experts with a screenplay-like language to create installations for staging exhibitions.
Keywords: Authoring; Believability; Embodied agents; User adaptivity; Virtual theater
Storytelling in virtual environments from a virtual guide perspective BIBAKFull-Text 30-42
  J. Ibanez; R. Aylett; R. Ruiz-Rodarte
This paper describes our proposal for storytelling in virtual environments from a virtual guide perspective, detailing the involved knowledge representation and algorithms. In our model the guide begins at a particular location and starts to navigate the world telling the user stories related to the places she visits. Our guide tries to emulate a real guide's behaviour in such a situation. In particular, she behaves as a spontaneous real guide who knows stories about the places in the virtual world but has not prepared an exhaustive tour nor a storyline.
Keywords: Digital storytelling; Narrative construction; Virtual environments; Virtual heritage
DocuDrama BIBAKFull-Text 43-53
  L. Schäfer; U. Pankoke-Babatz; W. Prinz; A. Fatah gen. Schieck
This paper presents an approach combining concepts of virtual storytelling with cooperative processes. We describe why storytelling is relevant in cooperation support applications, and outline how storytelling concepts provide a new quality for groupware applications. Different prototypes illustrate a combination of a groupware application with various storytelling components in a Theatre of Work.
Keywords: Awareness; Collaborative work; CSCW; Groupware; Project workflow; Storytelling; Virtual environments
Mixed reality storytelling environments BIBAKFull-Text 54-63
  V. Bayon; J. R. Wilson; D. Stanton; A. Boltman
The focus of this paper is the collaborative storytelling environments created as part of a three-year multi-disciplinary research project, KidStory. The project team, from the UK, Sweden and the USA, developed a series of story creation and telling tools and virtual environments for children aged 5-7 years. This paper concerns work with a Nottingham primary school to design and develop collaborative storytelling tools, including tangible interfaces devices and reactive spaces, with the aim of integrating these within the school context. The final set-up allowed children to dynamically produce story content, to create basic narrative structures and to retell their stories in a collaborative and adaptable physical space.
Keywords: Children; Classroom performance; Mixed reality; Storytelling

VR 2004-04 Volume 7 Issue 2

Online First publication BIBFull-Text 65
  Daniel Ballin; Rae E. Earnshaw; Robert D. Macredie; John A. Vince
Mediating the expression of emotion in educational collaborative virtual environments: an experimental study BIBAKFull-Text 66-81
  Marc Fabri; David Moore; Dave Hobbs
The use of avatars with emotionally expressive faces is potentially highly beneficial to communication in collaborative virtual environments (CVEs), especially when used in a distance learning context. However, little is known about how, or indeed whether, emotions can effectively be transmitted through the medium of a CVE. Given this, an avatar head model with limited but human-like expressive abilities was built, designed to enrich CVE communication. Based on the facial action coding system (FACS), the head was designed to express, in a readily recognisable manner, the six universal emotions. An experiment was conducted to investigate the efficacy of the model. Results indicate that the approach of applying the FACS model to virtual face representations is not guaranteed to work for all expressions of a particular emotion category. However, given appropriate use of the model, emotions can effectively be visualised with a limited number of facial features. A set of exemplar facial expressions is presented.
Keywords: Avatar; Collaborative virtual environment; Emotion; Facial expression
A CAVE-like environment as a tool for full-size train design BIBAKFull-Text 82-93
  Francisco J. Seron; Diego Gutierrez; Juan A. Magallon
Simulations of models, in all different areas, is an expanding, attractive line of work. More and more applications are taking advantage of the improvements in technology and knowledge in this field, thus achieving results that would have been impossible to achieve with a real model, or foreseeing facts that otherwise would have been encountered too late in the production process. The rail industry is one possible beneficiary of this approach. Usually, before commencing the fabrication process of a new train, the construction of a full-size model is mandatory. Instead of building this full-size real model, which leaves little room for later, last-minute modifications, a virtual model can be built in the digital realm, thus offering a new platform for easier interaction with it. In this article, a simulation of a train is presented in order to tackle visual, aesthetic and ergonomic issues. The simulation runs on a PC-based CAVE-like architecture, offering a certain degree of interaction to the user, and combines static and dynamic computer-generated imagery, both with and without stereoscopy for 3D visualisation, as well as augmented virtuality techniques for the integration of the train with its environment.
Keywords: CAVE; Industrial design; Simulator; Stereoscopy; Virtual prototyping
The implementation and evaluation of a virtual haptic back BIBAKFull-Text 94-102
  Kerry L. Holland; Robert L., II Williams; Robert R., Jr. Conatser
A virtual haptic back (VHB) model has been developed by a cross-disciplinary team of researchers at Ohio University. Haptics give the human the sense of touch and force from virtual computer models. The objective is to create a tool for medical and related education whereby students can train in the difficult art of palpation using virtual reality before approaching human subjects. Palpation is the art of medical diagnosis through the sense of touch. Haptic anatomy could be a key area in the future of medical school training; our goal is to add science to the art of palpation to improve osteopathic, physical therapy and massage therapy training for students and practitioners. Modelling of the VHB took place in two steps. First, Cartesian back data was collected via the Metrecom Skeletal Analysis System (SAS) digitiser. The back of a prone human subject was digitised, giving an array of three-dimensional points. Several methods were considered to smooth out the back data. Spline fitting with matched first and second derivates was the chosen method. Once an acceptable graphical model was created, haptic feedback was added using the PHANToM haptic interface, allowing the human user to explore and feel the virtual back. Experienced and novice palpators formally evaluated the VHB to give us feedback for improvements. In addition, four Doctors of Osteopathy informally interacted with our model and gave verbal feedback. Our experts all suggested modelling underlying muscles and skeletal structure in addition to the skin layer for more realism. Once this is accomplished we will further program somatic dysfunction of various types in the VHB for students to diagnose. This article contributes to the state of the art in virtual haptic anatomy. While other research groups are working in this area, our work is the first specifically aimed towards osteopathic medicine, physical therapy, and massage therapy students and practitioners.
Keywords: Haptics; Haptic interface; Haptics-augmented training; Virtual haptic anatomy; Virtual haptic back
Flexible bones for the haptic prototyping of deformable objects BIBAKFull-Text 103-111
  Robert L. Blanding; George M. Turkiyyah
Accurate modelling of the compliance characteristics of solid models is an important rendering task for increasing the realism of virtual environments. The ability to feel the force and moment stress resultants that cause the bending, twisting, shearing and/or fracture of physically-based models is useful for a large number of application areas including medical training, CAD environments, computer animation and games. An important element of compliance rendering is the mechanics engine that solves the equations governing the deformations and stresses in solid models. The development of such engines has to carefully balance the needs for haptic (not just graphical) realism with the needs for real time processing at rates in the range of 500-1000 Hz. In this paper we describe methods and techniques we have developed for such an engine, and demonstrate their characteristics in a number of applications including design of compliant mechanisms, animation and solid modelling.
Keywords: Compliant mechanisms; Finite element analysis; Haptic feedback; Medial axis; 3D solid deformation; Virtual prototyping
The use of force feedback and auditory cues for performance of an assembly task in an immersive virtual environment BIBAKFull-Text 112-119
  Gregory W. Edwards; Woodrow Barfield; Maury A. Nussbaum
Using an immersive virtual environment, this study investigated whether the inclusion of force feedback or auditory cues improved manipulation performance and subjective reports of usability for an assembly task. Twenty-four volunteers (12 males and 12 females) were required to assemble and then disassemble five interconnecting virtual parts with either auditory, force, or no feedback cues provided. Performance for the assembly task was measured using completion time and number of collisions between parts, while the users' preferences across conditions were evaluated using subjective reports of usability. The results indicated that the addition of force feedback slowed completion time and led to more collisions between parts for males. In contrast, females exhibited no change in the mean completion time for the assembly task but did show an increase in collision counts. Despite these negative performance findings when adding force feedback, users did report perceived increases in realism, helpfulness and utility towards the assembly task when force feedback was provided. Unlike force feedback, the results showed that auditory feedback, indicating that parts had collided during the assembly task, had no negative performance effects on the objective measures while still increasing perceived realism and overall user satisfaction. When auditory cues and force feedback were presented together, performance times, number of collisions, and usability were not improved compared to conditions containing just auditory cues or force feedback alone. Based on these results, and given the task and display devices used in the present study, the less costly option of excluding auditory and force feedback cues would produce the best performance when measured by the number of collisions and completion time. However, if increased ratings of usability for an assembly task are desired while maintaining objective performance levels and reduced cost, then the inclusion of auditory feedback cues is best.
Keywords: Force Feedback; Virtual environment; Auditory cues; Haptics; Gender differences
Real exhibitions in a virtual museum BIBAKFull-Text 120-128
  G. Lepouras; A. Katifori; C. Vassilakis; D. Charitos
When creating a virtual environment open to the public a number of challenges have to be addressed. The equipment has to be chosen carefully in order to be able to withstand hard everyday usage, and the application has not only to be robust and easy to use, but has also to be appealing to the user, etc. The current paper presents findings gathered from the creation of a multi-thematic virtual museum environment to be offered to visitors of real world museums. A number of design and implementation aspects are described along with an experiment designed to evaluate alternative approaches for implementing the navigation in a virtual museum environment. The paper is concluded with insights gained from the development of the virtual museum and portrays future research plans.
Keywords: Evaluation; Interaction design; Virtual environment; Virtual museum

VR 2004-06 Volume 7 Issue 3/4

Special issue on 'Interacting with desktop virtual environments: Perception and navigation' BIBFull-Text 129-130
  Sonali S. Morar; Robert D. Macredie
Navigational tools for desktop virtual environment interfaces BIBAKFull-Text 131-139
  H. M. Sayers; S. Wilson; M. D. J. McNeill
Desktop systems typically rely on a two-dimensional (2D) software interface and general purpose hardware (mouse, keyboard) for interaction with a three-dimensional (3D) virtual environment. These interfaces must provide all the functionality required to navigate through and interact with the virtual environment, yet research into the usability aspects of the tools presented on these software interfaces indicates that the majority of users experience some degree of frustration when using them to perform even relatively simple tasks. This paper begins with a study of usability issues for interfaces to virtual environments on desktop systems, and details a series of experiments performed to evaluate the usability of a number of navigational tools. Participants were tested on the time taken to complete a number of navigational tasks with a series of interfaces presenting different navigational tools. The tools presented were a speed control function, a you-are-here (YAH) map, a function enabling the user to mark and teleport to any location within the presented environment, and an undo function. Results indicate that the visual presentation of navigational aids improves navigation performance, in terms of the time taken to complete tasks, and also improves user satisfaction with the desktop system.
Keywords: Usability; Virtual environments; Visual navigation tools
A comparison of guidance cues in desktop virtual environments BIBAKFull-Text 140-147
  Karl E. Steiner; Lavanya Voruganti
Designers of educational and entertainment desktop virtual environments (VEs) have employed a variety of cues for motivating users to perform actions or adopt particular viewpoints. However, there has been little formal study comparing user responses to such cues. This paper reports the results of a preliminary study of five cues (agents, signs, man-made landmarks, environmental landmarks, and trails) for motivating actions in virtual environments. Given a sample task of navigating to a target destination, no significant differences between the cues were observed in terms of overall success or speed. However, significant differences between the cues were found on other measures, including minimization of detours (trails) and awareness of guidance (agents, signs, trails). Frequency of desktop VE usage was also found to influence performance.
Keywords: Desktop virtual environment; Virtual reality; Navigation; Guidance cues; User motivation
Comparing the roles of 3D representations in audio and audio-visual collaborations BIBAKFull-Text 148-163
  Martin Hicks; Sarah Nichols; Claire O'Malley
This study investigates the effects of performance and communication within audio-visual (shared representations) and audio-only conditions. Two three-dimensional (3D) representations were presented in each communication condition. The goal of the study was to examine both explicit and implicit references made during verbal interactions, and to gather subjective usability evaluations of each representation. Sixty dyads performed a series of problem solving tasks in three experimental conditions: mixed, 3D cylinder and 3D helix representations. Assessment measures included overall performance time and accuracy, and user attitudes pertaining to the usability of the displays. Although no differences in task performance were observed, qualitative measures revealed differences between representation and communication groups. User preferences for 3D cylinder and 3D helix representations were observed, with disparate strategies being adopted between groups. In general, the analyses indicated that the presence of shared visual information enhances collaborative problem solving.
Keywords: 3D representations; Information visualisation; Collaborative problem solving
Evaluating the effects of frame of reference on spatial collaboration using desktop collaborative virtual environments BIBAKFull-Text 164-174
  Wendy A. Schafer; Doug A. Bowman
Spatial collaboration is an everyday activity in which people work together to solve a spatial problem. For example, a group of people will often arrange furniture together or exchange directions with one another. Collaborative virtual environments using desktop PCs are particularly useful for spatial activities when the participants are distributed. This work investigates ways to enhance distributed, collaborative spatial activities. This paper explores how different frames of reference affect spatial collaboration. Specifically, it reports on an experiment that examines different combinations of exocentric and egocentric frames of reference with two users. Tasks involve manipulating an object, where one participant knows the objective (director) and the other performs the interactions (actor). It discusses the advantages and disadvantages of the different combinations for a spatial collaboration task. Findings from this study demonstrate that frames of reference affect collaboration in a variety of ways and simple exocentric-egocentric combinations do not always provide the most usable solution.
Keywords: Awareness; Collaborative virtual environment (CVE); Multiple perspectives
Usability issues of desktop virtual environment applications BIBFull-Text 175-176
  Sonali S. Morar; Robert D. Macredie
Context analysis to support development of virtual reality applications BIBAKFull-Text 177-186
  Henriette S. M. Cramer; V. Evers; E. V. Zudilova; P. M. A. Sloot
To develop a usable Virtual Reality system, the prospective context of use of such a system may need to be considered in order to make sure it meets the requirements and restrictions of that context. In this paper, a contextual analysis is described for a virtual reality system to aid medical diagnosis and treatment planning of vascular disorders. Semi-structured interviews were coupled with observations in an ethnographic approach to requirements gathering in the daily work environment of (interventional) radiologists and vascular surgeons. The identified potential usability problems of a fully immersive prototype, coupled with the needs, requirements and real-life environment of the end-users lead to guidelines for the development of a VR application on a semi-immersive desktop environment. The findings lead us to believe that contextual analysis can be a powerful way to inform the design of a VR application by offering an understanding of the context of use and to inform developers of the most appropriate degree of immersiveness of the VR environment.
Keywords: Desktop virtual reality; Usability; Contextual design; Ethnography
A desktop VR prototype for industrial training applications BIBAKFull-Text 187-197
  Q. H. Wang; J. R. Li
The recent advances in computer graphics has spurred interest from both academics and industries in virtual reality (VR) enabled training applications. This paper presents a desktop VR prototype for industrial training applications. It is designed and implemented as a general shell by providing the data interface to import both the virtual environment models and specific domain knowledge. The geometric models of the virtual environment are constructed using feature-based modelling and assembly function by external CAD tools, and then transferred into the prototype through a conversion module. A hierarchical structure is proposed to partition and organise these imported virtual environment models. Based on this structure, a visibility culling approach is developed for fast rendering and user interaction. The case study has demonstrated the functionality of the proposed prototype system by applying it to a maintenance training application for a refinery bump system, which, in general, has a large number of polygons and a certain depth complexity. Significant speedup in both context rendering and response to user manipulations has been achieved to provide the user with a fast system response within the desktop virtual environment. Compared with the immersive VR system, the proposed system has offered an affordable and portable training media for industrial applications.
Keywords: Virtual reality; Desktop virtual environment; Computer-based training; Visibility culling
A system for desktop conceptual 3D design BIBAKFull-Text 198-211
  Ji-Young Oh; Wolfgang Stuerzlinger
In the traditional design process for a 3D environment, people usually depict a rough prototype to verify their ideas, and iteratively modify its configuration until they are satisfied with the general layout. In this activity, one of the main operations is the rearrangement of single and composite parts of a scene. With current desktop virtual reality (VR) systems, the selection and manipulation of arbitrary objects in 3D is still difficult. In this work, we present new and efficient techniques that allow even novice users to perform meaningful rearrangement tasks with traditional input devices. The results of our work show that the presented techniques can be mastered quickly and enable users to perform complex tasks on composite objects. Moreover, the system is easy to learn, supports creativity, and is fun to use.
Keywords: Conceptual 3D design; Interactive 3D environment; 3D manipulation
Usability issues in the design of an intuitive interface for planning and simulating maintenance interventions using a virtual environment BIBAKFull-Text 212-221
  Angélica de Antonio; Ricardo Imbert; Jaime Ramírez; Xavier Ferré
This paper presents some of the results obtained in the VRIMOR project (virtual reality for inspection, maintenance, operation and repair of nuclear power plants). The general aim was to integrate environmental scanning technologies with human modelling and radiological dose estimation tools, and to deliver an intuitive and cost-effective system for use by operators involved with interventions in radiologically controlled areas. The usability of the resulting products was one of the main success criteria. This paper describes the general approach and design mechanisms used in the HeSPI (HeSPI stands for the Spanish for Herramienta para la Simulación y Planificación de Intervenciones, or tool for the simulation and planning of interventions) tool that has been developed by one of the teams. The tool provides the designer of an intervention with a humanoid 3D model, or mannequin, that can be loaded into the desired environment and will be used by the designer as if he was manipulating a puppet, making it move around the environment and perform different kinds of actions, adopting varied postures, interacting with the objects in the environment and manipulating tools and equipment. A combination of a graphical user interface (GUI) and a voice recognition system, together with the selected design mechanisms, has proven to offer good enough interaction possibilities for this kind of desktop virtual environment.
Keywords: Planning and design of interventions; Object manipulation; Voice recognition; Generic actions; Usability of desktop virtual environments