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Virtual Reality 8

Standard No:ISSN 1359-4338 (print) EISSN 1434-9957 (online)
Links:link.springer.com | Twitter | Table of Contents
  1. VR 2004-03 Volume 8 Issue 1
  2. VR 2004-06 Volume 8 Issue 2
  3. VR 2005-06 Volume 8 Issue 3
  4. VR 2005-09 Volume 8 Issue 4

VR 2004-03 Volume 8 Issue 1

A pseudo-immersive virtual environment -- a framework for modelling sheet deformation BIBAKFull-Text 1-16
  B. S. Mahal; D. E. R. Clark; J. E. L. Simmons
This paper presents a real-time, computationally inexpensive environment for accurate simulations of sheet materials on a personal computer. The approach described differs from other techniques through its novel use of multilayer sheet structures. The ultimate aim is to incorporate into the environment the capacity of simulating a range of temperatures. A pseudo-immersive "Window on World" (WoW) environment is used to handle the implementation of the real-time, aesthetically accurate deformation algorithm (MaSSE-Mass-Spring Simulation Engine). The motion of the sheet is controlled by simulated gravity and through its interaction with objects that have been inserted into a virtual room. In addition, the WoW interface is used to adjust environmental parameters dynamically and adjust the scene viewing perspective. An obvious use of the environment is centred on mechanical engineering-based real-time simulations of heat-sensitive sheet materials. This would allow for a wide range of applications in virtual manufacturing including the clothing industry and hostile environments.
Keywords: Mass-spring systems; Sheet deformation; Heat simulation; Pseudo-immersive desktop environment; Ordinary differential equations
Interaction with a desktop virtual environment: a 2D view into a 3D world BIBAKFull-Text 17-25
  Eleanor Marshall; Sarah Nichols
With the development of computer software and hardware in the past few years, it has been possible to produce effective training virtual environments on everyday personal computers with little expert training required for users or designers. However, the development of the equipment that enables this has brought little coinciding research on what features to include when designing these environments. Despite these increased advances in PC capabilities for desktop virtual environments (VEs), there are still limitations on the number of objects that can be programmed to be interactive, usually due to restrictions on programming time and cost. As a result, it is often left to the programmer to decide which of the objects included to increase the realism of the environment will be interactive and which aesthetic. The work presented in this paper is an experiment that aims to establish a guide for environment designers to aid effective environment interaction development by identifying key elements in a VE design.
Keywords: Desktop virtual environments; Interaction hotspots; Training; Virtual environment development; Virtual environment design
Navigation in desktop virtual environments: an evaluation and recommendations for supporting usability BIBAKFull-Text 26-40
  Angelia Sebok; Espen Nystad; Stein Helgar
Virtual reality (VR) can provide useful tools for a variety of applications. However, for these tools to be effective, they must be easy to use. In virtual environments (VEs), usability is impaired by poorly designed navigation systems. Insufficient realism and missing physiological orientation and motion cues impair spatial learning in desktop VEs. Capabilities for navigation in a VE are far more varied than in reality; so much greater flexibility can be offered, but designing VEs with too many options can overwhelm users. To assist designers in building effective, usable navigation systems for VEs, navigation techniques must be evaluated to identify which features actually support users in accomplishing their tasks and which features create unnecessary problems.
   This study evaluates navigation in two different VEs to develop recommendations for the design of navigation systems in desktop VEs. The study consists of an objective assessment of navigation control dynamics, a guideline-based evaluation and a review of data collected during two experimental studies. The findings indicate that real-world constraints, specialised navigation techniques and feedback regarding location and direction of travel are needed to support navigation in desktop VEs.
Keywords: Controls; Guidelines; Navigation; Usability; Virtual environment
Design and display of enhancing information in desktop information-rich virtual environments: challenges and techniques BIBAKFull-Text 41-54
  Nicholas F. Polys; Doug A. Bowman
Information-rich virtual environments (IRVEs) have been described as environments in which perceptual information is enhanced with abstract (or symbolic) information, such as text, numbers, images, audio, video, or hyperlinked resources. Desktop virtual environment (VE) applications present similar information design and layout challenges as immersive VEs, but, in addition, they may also be integrated with external windows or frames commonly used in desktop interfaces. This paper enumerates design approaches for the display of enhancing information both internal and external to the virtual world's render volume. Using standard Web-based software frameworks, we explore a number of implicit and explicit spatial layout methods for the display and linking of abstract information, especially text. Within the VE view, we demonstrate both heads-up-displays (HUDs) and encapsulated scenegraph behaviors we call semantic objects. For desktop displays, which support information display venues external to the scene, we demonstrate the linking and integration of the scene with Web browsers and external visualization applications. Finally, we describe the application of these techniques in the PathSim visualizer, an IRVE interface for the biomedical domain. These design techniques are relevant to instructional and informative interfaces for a wide variety of VE applications.
Keywords: Information-rich virtual environments; Visualization design; Information psychophysics; Multiple view architectures; Desktop virtual environments
Evaluating design guidelines for reducing user disorientation in a desktop virtual environment BIBAKFull-Text 55-62
  Shamus P. Smith; Tim Marsh
Navigation in virtual environments can be difficult. One contributing factor is user disorientation. Two major causes of this are the lack of navigation cues in the environment and problems with navigating too close to or through virtual world objects. Previous work has developed guidelines, informed by cinematography conventions, for the construction of virtual environments to aid user comprehension of virtual space to reduce user disorientation. To validate these guidelines, two user studies have been performed where users of a desktop virtual environment are to complete a navigation task in a virtual maze. In an initial study [12], collision detection with the maze walls was not enabled and the results indicated that the guidelines were effective for reducing disorientation but not for developing the user's awareness of the environment space. A second study has been performed where collision detection was enabled. Results suggest that the use of the guidelines can help reduce the incidences of user disorientation and aid navigation tasks. However, the guidelines have little impact on users' ability to construct cognitive maps of the desktop virtual environment.
Keywords: Navigation; Virtual environment; User disorientation; Design guidelines; Evaluation study
Fast continuous collision detection and handling for desktop virtual prototyping BIBAKFull-Text 63-70
  Stephane Redon
This paper presents an overview of our recent work on continuous collision detection methods and constraints handling for rigid polyhedral objects. We demonstrate that continuous collision detection algorithms are practical in interactive dynamics simulation of complex polyhedral rigid bodies and show how continuous collision detection and efficient constraint-based dynamics algorithms allow us to perform various virtual prototyping tasks intuitively, precisely and robustly on commodity desktop computers. Especially, we present two applications of our system to actual industrial cases. We note that both tasks are performed with a simple 2D mouse on a high-end computer.
Keywords: Continuous collision detection; Dynamics simulation; Virtual prototyping; Virtual reality

VR 2004-06 Volume 8 Issue 2

Taxonomy for visualizing location-based information BIBAKFull-Text 71-82
  Riku Suomela; Juha Lehikoinen
Location-based data is digital information that has a real-world location. Location-based data can be used for many purposes, such as providing additional information on real-world objects or helping a user in a specific task. Access to such data can be provided in many ways, for example, with augmented reality (AR) systems. AR techniques can help its user in various tasks and the AR data can be presented to the user in various ways, depending on the task at hand. The different visualizations that can be used are heavily dependent on the hardware platform and, thus, all technologies are not suitable for every situation. This paper studies two factors that affect the visualization of location-based data. The two factors are the environment model they use, ranging from three dimensions (3D) to no dimensions (0D) at all; and the viewpoint, whether it is a first-person or a third-person view. As a result, we define a taxonomy for visualizing location-based data, where each model-view (MV) combination is referred to using its MV number. We also present numerous case studies with different MV values.
Keywords: Location-based data; Virtual objects; Augmented reality; Visualization; Taxonomy
Conceptualising mixed spaces of interaction for designing continuous interaction BIBAKFull-Text 83-95
  Daniela Gorski Trevisan; Jean Vanderdonckt; Benoît Macq
Recent progress in the overlay and registration of digital information on the user's workspace in a spatially meaningful way has allowed mixed reality (MR) to become a more effective operational medium. However, research in software structures, design methods and design support tools for MR systems is still in its infancy. In this paper, we propose a conceptual classification of the design space to support the development of MR systems. The proposed design space (DeSMiR) is an abstract tool for systematically exploring several design alternatives at an early stage of interaction design, without being biassed towards a particular modality or technology. Once the abstract design possibilities have been identified and a concrete design decision has been taken (i.e. a specific modality has been selected), a concrete MR application can be considered in order to analyse the interaction techniques in terms of continuous interaction properties. We suggest that our design space can be applied to the design of several kinds of MR applications, especially those in which very little user focus distraction can be tolerated, and where smooth connections and interactions between real and virtual worlds is critical for the system development. An image-guided surgery system (IGS) is used as a case study.
Keywords: Design space; Mixed reality; Continuous interaction; Image-guided surgery
Virtual museums for all: employing game technology for edutainment BIBAKFull-Text 96-106
  George Lepouras; Costas Vassilakis
Museums have started to realise the potential of new technologies for the development of edutainment content and services for their visitors. Virtual reality technologies promise to offer a vivid, enjoyable experience to the museums guests, but the cost in time, effort and resources can prove to be overwhelming. In this paper, we propose the use of 3D game technologies for the purpose of developing affordable, easy to use and pleasing virtual environments. To this end, we present a case study based on an already developed version of a virtual museum and a newly implemented version that uses game technologies. The informal assessment indicates that game technologies can offer a prominent and viable solution to the need for affordable desktop virtual reality systems.
Keywords: Virtual museums; Desktop VR; 3D game technologies
Avatar gender and personal space invasion anxiety level in desktop collaborative virtual environments BIBAKFull-Text 107-117
  Nasser Nassiri; Norman Powell; David Moore
We report an investigation exploring the effect of avatar gender on the anxiety level caused by personal space (PS) invasion in desktop collaborative virtual environments (DCVE). We outline an experiment in which participants, of both genders, whose avatars' PS were "invaded" by other avatars of either gender, reported their anxiety levels through the use of a post-experiment questionnaire. The data from the questionnaire are analysed and discussed. The results suggest that the combination of the gender of the invading avatar and the avatar being invaded has an influence on the PS invasion anxiety level and that the ranking of gender combination groups has a striking difference from those observed for PS invasion in physical environments. Results also show that the participants in general did not register high anxiety, contrary to what one might expect from personal space invasion in the physical world.
Keywords: Personal space; Collaborative virtual environment; Avatars
Beyond user experimentation: notational-based systematic evaluation of interaction techniques in virtual reality environments BIBAKFull-Text 118-128
  Emmanuel Dubois; Luciana P. Nedel; Carla M. Dal Sasso. Freitas
Despite the increasing number of interaction devices for virtual reality (VR) applications (e.g. data-gloves, space balls, data-suits and so on), surprisingly very little attention has been given to the evaluation of VR interaction techniques or more generally to the usability of virtual reality environments (VRE). The main reasons for these limited efforts are probably that empirical user testing with VREs is difficult and time-consuming and ergonomic rules or criteria and traditional HCI tools and methods are not well suited for VRE. Alternatively, the specification of interaction based on a formal method or notation provides a precise and unambiguous description that can be used to reason the user's actions while interacting with a VRE. In this paper, we propose a new approach to design interaction techniques in VRE, based on the use of a formal specification language: the ASUR notation. In the early stages of system design, time and effort are reduced by assisting the designers in considering alternative solutions and anticipating usability issues. To better explain the proposed methodology, we report an evaluation of selection and manipulation techniques in a virtual environment based on a chess game. The evaluation has been carried out in two ways: predictively, with the help of the ASUR notation, and empirically via user experiments. We present the outcomes of the empirical studies and demonstrate that the reasoning with the ASUR notation leads to similar but also results complementary to those obtained with the experiments.
Keywords: Mixed reality; Virtual reality; 3D interaction; Interaction design notation; User experimentation

VR 2005-06 Volume 8 Issue 3

Editorial BIBFull-Text 129-130
  Robert J. Stone
REMOTE: desk-top Virtual Reality for future command and control? BIBAKFull-Text 131-146
  R. S. Aylett; C. Delgado; J. H. Serna; R. Stockdale; H. Clarke
This paper discusses a study in supporting collaborative military planning in which groupware, video-conferencing and a desktop Collaborative Virtual Environment (CVE) were used. It discusses the design and implementation of the CVE and the setup and execution of the study using questionnaires and observation. The results of the study questionnaires showed that the CVE was not seen by users as the best of the ways offered to support collaborative planning; these results are discussed and their implication for the design of such a CVE are assessed.
Keywords: Virtual environment; Collaboration; Groupware; Avatar; Net-VE
Using wireless technology to develop a virtual reality command and control centre BIBAKFull-Text 147-155
  Damian Green; Neville Stanton; Guy Walker; Paul Salmon
This paper investigates the applicability of wireless communication systems for use in command and control environments. Human positional data is transmitted over a wireless network. This data is then used to update a highly accurately modelled real-time 3D environment of the surroundings, with avatars positioned at the transmitted points. The data is displayed on a stereoscopic 3D screen enabling novel automatic tracking of human movement and allowing for more rapid and informed tactical decision making. The system has applicability in a variety of C4I environments, including the military and emergency services.
Keywords: Wireless technology; Applications; Command and control; C4I; Human factors
Virtual environment cultural training for operational readiness (VECTOR) BIBFull-Text 156-167
  John E. Deaton; Charles Barba; Tom Santarelli; Larry Rosenzweig
The Euclid RTP 11.13 Synthetic Environment Development and Exploitation Process (SEDEP) BIBAKFull-Text 168-176
  Keith Ford
Euclid RTP 11.13 was a major initiative to promote the use of synthetic environments (SEs) in Europe. One of the main results from the programme was the concept of the SE development environment (SEDE) for creating and utilising SEs, which is analogous to an integrated development environment for developing software applications. The purpose of the SEDE is to provide a facility that will assist the different types of SE users i.e. Problem Setters, Problem Solvers, and SE Implementers, so that SEs can be delivered faster, better and cheaper. The SEDE comprises of five main components: the SE Development and Exploitation process (SEDEP), repository, SE management tool (SEMT), SE tools (both COTS and those being developed in Euclid 11.13) and a Knowledge Base. The SEDEP was developed from FEDEP version 1.5 and its purpose is to provide additional information to the SE community not covered by the terms of reference of the FEDEP. In particular, it is a generic process that is not dedicated to one kind of interoperability technology and covers the complete SE lifecycle, from eliciting the user needs through to evaluating the results from operating the SE. In order to capture the work done in RTP 11.13, the FEDEP and SEDEP development teams worked together to pull-through applicable information into the IEEE 1516.3 version of the FEDEP. Following the conclusion of RTP 11.13, further development of the SEDEP has stopped whilst a new 'owner' is found for it. However, the SEDEP version 2.0 is still publicly available (http://www.euclid1113.com) and SE developers are encouraged to use it since it complements the information provided by the FEDEP.
Keywords: Euclid RTP 11.13; Synthetic Environments; Process; SEDEP
Wearable augmented virtual reality for enhancing information delivery in high precision defence assembly: an engineering case study BIBAFull-Text 177-184
  Philip N. Day; Gus Ferguson; Patrik O'Brian Holt; Steven Hogg
Virtual reality (VR) technology has matured during the past few years to a degree where real industrial applications have become feasible. The work described in this paper involves collaboration between Heriot-Watt University and BAE Systems and aimed to establish the feasibility of using augmented VR to support complex information delivery in high precision defence assembly. Laboratory and field studies were conducted which investigated performance when using augmented VR as compared to conventional methods of information delivery. The results show that augmented VR is comparable to conventional methods of information delivery in terms of latencies and errors but allows less disruption to work and greater mobility. There appear to be no adverse affects on operators from using VR and generally operators are positive towards using VR technology. The feasibility of supporting augmented VR with wearable technology is also demonstrated. The overall results are discussed in terms of further application of VR in industrial settings.
Intelligent virtual agents keeping watch in the battlefield BIBAKFull-Text 185-193
  Pilar Herrero; Angélica de Antonio
One of the first areas where virtual reality found a practical application was military training. Two fairly obvious reasons have driven the military to explore and employ this kind of technique in their training; to reduce exposure to hazards and to increase stealth. Many aspects of combat operations are very hazardous, and they become even more dangerous if the combatant seeks to improve his performance. Some smart weapons are autonomous, while others are remotely controlled after they are launched. This allows the shooter and weapon controller to launch the weapon and immediately seek cover, thus decreasing his exposure to return fire. Before launching a weapon, the person who controls that weapon must acquire/perceive as much information as he can, not only from its environment, but also from the people who inhabits that environment. Intelligent virtual agents (IVAs) are used in a wide variety of simulation environments, especially in order to simulate realistic situations as, for example, high fidelity virtual environment (VE) for military training that allows thousands of agents to interact in battlefield scenarios. In this paper, we propose a perceptual model, which seeks to introduce more coherence between IVA perception and human being perception, increasing the psychological "coherence" between the real life and the VE experience. Agents lacking this perceptual model could react in a non-realistic way, hearing or seeing things that are too far away or hidden behind other objects. The perceptual model, we propose in this paper introduces human limitations inside the agent's perceptual model with the aim of reflecting human perception.
Keywords: Intelligent virtual agents (IVAs); Perception; Awareness; Focus; Nimbus; Human factors
ERT-VR: an immersive virtual reality system for emergency rescue training BIBAKFull-Text 194-197
  Lei Li; Maojun Zhang; Fangjiang Xu; Shaohua Liu
Virtual reality technology offers a cost effective means to train emergency rescuers, which is an urgent task on account of the increasing terrorist activities. An immersive virtual reality system called ERT-VR is introduced. In ERT-VR, the display system based on stereoscopic projectors is used to train the emergency rescue commanders. The members of the operational teams use head-mounted display as the display system. The 3D scenario creator is the most important unit in ERT-VR. Instructors assign a specific training scenario to the trainees by using the scenario creator. Trainees take on the role of the characters in the training scenario and control their actions and ultimately the scenario outcomes. All the actions are recorded into the database system and can be replayed anytime. The potential of each trainee is evaluated by an expert system.
Keywords: Virtual reality; Emergency rescue training; Advance training technology; Scenario manager

VR 2005-09 Volume 8 Issue 4

Editorial BIBFull-Text 199-200
  Patrick Olivier; Steven K. Feiner
Mixed feelings: expression of non-basic emotions in a muscle-based talking head BIBAKFull-Text 201-212
  Irene Albrecht; Marc Schröder; Jörg Haber; Hans-Peter Seidel
We present an algorithm for generating facial expressions for a continuum of pure and mixed emotions of varying intensity. Based on the observation that in natural interaction among humans, shades of emotion are much more frequently encountered than expressions of basic emotions, a method to generate more than Ekman's six basic emotions (joy, anger, fear, sadness, disgust and surprise) is required. To this end, we have adapted the algorithm proposed by Tsapatsoulis et al. [1] to be applicable to a physics-based facial animation system and a single, integrated emotion model. A physics-based facial animation system was combined with an equally flexible and expressive text-to-speech synthesis system, based upon the same emotion model, to form a talking head capable of expressing non-basic emotions of varying intensities. With a variety of life-like intermediate facial expressions captured as snapshots from the system we demonstrate the appropriateness of our approach.
Keywords: Continuous emotions; Emotional speech synthesis; Facial animation
Model-based video tracking for gestural interaction BIBAKFull-Text 213-221
  J.-B. de la. Rivière; P. Guitton
Among many techniques to interact with 3D environments, gesture-based input appears promising. However, due to insufficient computing hardware capabilities, such interfaces have to be built either upon standard tracking devices or using limited image-based video tracking algorithms. As today computing power tends to be more and more powerful, more complex video analysis such as real-time model-based tracking is at hand. Considering the use of a model-based approach to allow unencumbered input gives us the advantage of extracting a low-level hand description useful to build natural interfaces. The algorithm we developed relies on a 3D polygonal hand model. Its pose parametrization is iteratively refined so that its 2D projection matches more closely the input 2D image. Relying on the graphics hardware to handle fast 2D projection is critical, while adding more cameras is useful to cope with the occlusion issue.
Keywords: Full hand pose estimation; Real-time video analysis; Articulated tracking; VR interaction techniques
Untethered gesture acquisition and recognition for virtual world manipulation BIBAFull-Text 222-230
  David Demirdjian; Teresa Ko; Trevor Darrell
Humans use a combination of gesture and speech to interact with objects and usually do so more naturally without holding a device or pointer. We present a system that incorporates user body-pose estimation, gesture recognition and speech recognition for interaction in virtual reality environments. We describe a vision-based method for tracking the pose of a user in real time and introduce a technique that provides parameterized gesture recognition. More precisely, we train a support vector classifier to model the boundary of the space of possible gestures, and train Hidden Markov Models (HMM) on specific gestures. Given a sequence, we can find the start and end of various gestures using a support vector classifier, and find gesture likelihoods and parameters with a HMM. A multimodal recognition process is performed using rank-order fusion to merge speech and vision hypotheses. Finally we describe the use of our multimodal framework in a virtual world application that allows users to interact using gestures and speech.
A two visual systems approach to understanding voice and gestural interaction BIBAKFull-Text 231-241
  Barry A. Po; Brian D. Fisher; Kellogg S. Booth
It is important to consider the physiological and behavioral mechanisms that allow users to physically interact with virtual environments. Inspired by a neuroanatomical model of perception and action known as the two visual systems hypothesis, we conducted a study with two controlled experiments to compare four different kinds of spatial interaction: (1) voice-based input, (2) pointing with a visual cursor, (3) pointing without a visual cursor, and (4) pointing with a time-lagged visual cursor. Consistent with the two visual systems hypothesis, we found that voice-based input and pointing with a cursor were less robust to a display illusion known as the induced Roelofs effect than pointing without a cursor or even pointing with a lagged cursor. The implications of these findings are discussed, with an emphasis on how the two visual systems model can be used to understand the basis for voice and gestural interactions that support spatial target selection in large screen and immersive environments.
Keywords: Two visual systems; Pointing; Cursors; Visual feedback; Voice input; Visual illusions
Analysis of composite gestures with a coherent probabilistic graphical model BIBAKFull-Text 242-252
  Jason J. Corso; Guangqi Ye; Gregory D. Hager
Traditionally, gesture-based interaction in virtual environments is composed of either static, posture-based gesture primitives or temporally analyzed dynamic primitives. However, it would be ideal to incorporate both static and dynamic gestures to fully utilize the potential of gesture-based interaction. To that end, we propose a probabilistic framework that incorporates both static and dynamic gesture primitives. We call these primitives Gesture Words (GWords). Using a probabilistic graphical model (PGM), we integrate these heterogeneous GWords and a high-level language model in a coherent fashion. Composite gestures are represented as stochastic paths through the PGM. A gesture is analyzed by finding the path that maximizes the likelihood on the PGM with respect to the video sequence. To facilitate online computation, we propose a greedy algorithm for performing inference on the PGM. The parameters of the PGM can be learned via three different methods: supervised, unsupervised, and hybrid. We have implemented the PGM model for a gesture set of ten GWords with six composite gestures. The experimental results show that the PGM can accurately recognize composite gestures.
Keywords: Human computer interaction; Gesture recognition; Hand postures; Vision-based interaction; Probabilistic graphical model