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Low Cost VR Environments for Multiple Applications

PhD Student: Ms Holly Grimes

Supervisors: Dr K Rafferty and Dr S Ferguson

 

Summary

An immersive virtual environment (VE), of which a panoramic stereoscopic projection system forms part, has a wide variety of applications ranging from: providing a realistic setting in which to conduct in-service training for professional activities, acting as the main component of a user interface for multi-sensorial teleconferencing, or to simply provide an environment in which to play networked computer games. Unfortunately, the projection equipment that is the central component of immersive VEs has remained outside the cost bracket in which it is practical to widely deploy a large number of such systems.

In this project some simple PC software, a couple of consumer level personal computers, some “do-it-yourself” hardware  (forming a curved projection surface) and four low cost video projectors are combined to form an easily configurable and transportable projection display with applications in virtual reality training.

Preliminary Results

In a basic prototype configuration the projection display uses a 180 degree semi-cylindrical screen built from panels of white ‘polyboard’ held in place by a light aluminum frame. Four small projectors are suspended from a semi-circular aluminum ring at ceiling height so as to afford maximum clearance above the users. The whole system fits easily into a medium sized room. These projectors can deliver some stereoscopic capability and the emitters of a shutter-eye stereo-system are attached around the display surface. Under appropriate lighting conditions the 85Hz refresh rate does not exhibit an unpleasant flicker and it appears to be satisfactory for short periods of work. 

It has also has been found useful to place a set of infrared emitters around the periphery of the screen, these are used as locators for Nintedo-Will games console remotes that provide a rudimentary tracking and pointing interface within the working space surrounded by the screen.

Additional results can be viewed from the poster.