Monday, August 27, 2007

Motion Capture at Siggraph - Linking Real Motion to Virtual Worlds

There were many motion capture demonstrations at the recent Siggraph show. Applications for motion capture include animated films, special-effects sequences, video games (e.g. capturing the throwing motion of a quarterback), academic studies in motion and more.

Most demonstrations involved models wearing body suits and moving in a large area with a uniform background. Real-time systems captured the movement and displayed it on computer screens.

A particularly exciting motion capture demonstration was staged at the WorldViz booth. Data from the motion capture system was fed into Vizard, the VR software platform from WorldViz and then used to drive the on-screen movement of an avatar. The avatar operated in a virtual world and interacted with it. In the particular Siggraph demo, the avatar was initially surrounded by many wooden boxes. By moving around, the model was able to rearrange the wooden boxes so as to show a compelling interaction between the virtual and real worlds. Moreover, the human model had two viewing options: view the complete scene on a projection screen (which drew a large crowd throughout the show), or wear an HMD (see image) and get a first-person experience as if being there. Incidentally, the software could also be configured to show the scene from another person's viewpoint, thus providing an "out of body" experience to the model who was able to view her own movements driving the avatar from a different viewpoint.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Are Existing Head-Mounted Displays ‘Good Enough’?

During the spring of 2007, Sensics, my company, conducted a broad worldwide survey amongst academic, commercial, and government users of virtual reality systems. The survey was designed to understand user perceptions of current head-mounted display (HMD)
technology as well as desired performance characteristics of what was termed a 'good enough'

Key survey findings include:

1. Most existing HMDs are not ‘good enough’ according to survey participants. Commonplace horizontal field of view (50 degrees or lower) and commonplace vertical field of view (30 degrees or lower) are considered ‘good enough’ by fewer than 10% of surveyed population.

2. The lack of ‘good enough’ performance is cited in practically all the cases where buyers with appropriate budgets considered purchasing head-mounted displays yet ultimately did not do so.

3. Users consider the most important HMD attributes to be: panoramic field of view (over 100 degrees horizontal), large vertical field of view (over 50 degrees), very fast dynamic response (no smear or fade effects), high contrast display, high resolution display and a lightweight design.

A full copy of the survey can be obtained by contacting Sensics. I think it's well worth a read.