The Electric Garden was an instant city that celebrated new and
emerging technologies. It was full of remarkable things to see, hear,
touch, and experience in a rich, sensual environment.
Computer-generated images displayed by a variety of 2D and 3D systems
provided color, motion, and beauty in the garden. Motion-capture systems
and electronic cameras captured gestures and expressions, and
allowed interaction with a synthetic world. Computer-controlled electric
motors and machines provided surface information on
the density, weight, and texture of a virtual object.
Over 70 proposals were submitted, and 46 were selected for the Electric
Garden. The contributors were chosen based on their creativity, technical
innovation, quality of content, presentation, and potential cultural
significance. Selected projects fell into the following categories:
computer artwork, simulations and interactive games, force-feedback
interfaces, optical input devices, and scientific research applications.
"Technology is seductive. It begs us to touch it, to see it, to hear it,
to experience all that it is. This is the foundation of the Electric
Garden: the challenge of invention; the excitement of creation; the
seduction of technology," said Rick Hopkins, Electric Garden Chair. "The
Electric Garden provides a complete sensory experience for all SIGGRAPH
Electric Garden Highlights
JPL Space Garden: Space Data Visualization
Interactive demonstrations of systems in current use at JPL for processing
and visualization of science data returned by instruments flown on various
NASA spacecraft, including:
The Science Analysis Graphics Environment (SAGE), a graphical interface
used to control processing of imaging data returned by solar system
exploration spacecraft, including the Galileo spacecraft currently
returning data from Jupiter.
Mission operations support software used by the Mars Pathfinder mission
that landed on Mars on 4 July 1997, providing stereoscopic mission planning
tools that support rover navigation on the Martian surface.
Animated "fly-over" sequences produced from data of the earth and other
A virtual reality basketball game with dynamic force feedback to create the
sensation of throwing a basketball. Players attached rings to their fingers,
which were connected to computer-driven electric motors to provide tactile
sensations throughout the experience. Players felt the weight and the
spherical shape of the virtual ball at any position inside the playing
space and experienced the illusion of natural control over the ball.
Motorists on Hollywood's legendary
Sunset Boulevard activated and controlled a drive-by soap opera playing on two
outdoor billboard-sized TVs at Billboard Live, a high-tech nightclub. Two
ubiquitous consumer technologies (radio car-security keyfobs and
garage-door openers) allowed the story to be steered by radio signals from
the passing vehicles of this driven metropolis. Viewer participation
ignited curiosities about quotidian dramas and life behind closed doors as
the electronic garage door, on the screen, opened to reveal unexpected
secrets. A soundtrack was transmitted on an ultra-low-power radio station
associated with the displays. Viewers at the Los Angeles Convention Center
also observed and participated in the Sunset proceedings.
Visual immersion plays an important role in virtual environments. A
head-mounted-display (HMD) provides full solid-angle views of virtual
space. However, the HMD's optical system limits its field of view. One
alternative display system is a large screen. Another alternative is a dome
screen or a cubic screen. These alternatives require large theater-like
spaces, which restricts their general use for computer-human interaction.
In Garnet Vision, the emphasis was on how to build a full solid-angle
display in a limited space. The solution was the dodecahedron screen, in
which a viewer can stand, built with 12 projectors in a space the size of a
normal room. Each projector has a speaker that generates special sound.
MEDIA3; The Virtual Hologram
The MEDIA3 (MEDIA CUBE) consisted of liquid crystal displays arranged in the
shape of a cubic body: a rectangular parallelepiped. In coordination with
the motion of an operator's head and the MEDIA3, synthesized images of
virtual objects (an insect, a tropical fish, artworks, a medical image,
etc.) located inside the MEDIA3 appeared on each LCD. The effect was exactly
the opposite of that generated by an OMNIMAX or CAVE system. Instead of an
operator located inside the virtual world, operators of the MEDIA3 saw an
inner virtual world from outside. In other words, the MEDIA3 was an
Big Head Racer
A revolutionary, entirely new prototype, Big Head Racer was created
with the objective of personalizing video racing entertainment experiences.
It allowed participants to see a live video image of themselves in the
cockpit of a futuristic racing machine, competing against other drivers
(whose heads also appear in their cars) in a race for the finish line. For
the first time, players piloted their own machines. Unlike games that provide
generic heroes (or no driver at all), Big Head Racer did not require users
to imagine that they are in control of the vehicle because they're right
there on the screen.
Tele-Avatars: Surface Cruisers and Space Browsers
In the rush into cyberspace, we leave our physical presence and our
real-world environment behind. The Internet, undoubtedly a remarkable
modern communications tool, still does not empower us to enter the real
world of those at the other end of the connection. By combining elements of
computer graphics, the Internet, and tele-robotics, it is possible to
transparently immerse users into navigable real remote worlds filled with
rich spatial sensoria and make such systems accessible from any networked
computer in the world -- in essence: globally accessible tele-embodiment.
Several special tele-robots populated the Electric Garden, including several
ground-based surface cruisers and a few space-browsing airborne blimps to
provide the sensation of tele-embodiment. Drivers and pilots controlled these
tele-avatars and experienced their remote world through live two-way audio
and video. Attendees also controlled and interacted with separate virtual
tele-avatars in a simulated world that exhibited realistic physical and
Multi Mega Book in the Cave
The Multi Mega Book was an up-to-date electronic book sculpture --
a magic and stimulating journey through some of the most intense moments of
the media, technology, science, architecture, and culture. It was developed in
the CAVE as a fully inmersive interactive installation with high-resolution
stereoscopic images. Users explored and freely experienced the different
dimensions of the 15th Century and the 20th Century through virtual
reality, stereocopic 3D sound, and holophonic effects that generated a
magical interactive navigation technique.
From this experience, users could slip into a tunnel of evolution and travel
through a labyrinth of myth and change featuring flying objects such as:
paper, pixels, books, disks, and streams of lights. Intense 3D music and sound,
and vibrant holophonic effects, enveloped users as they flew up a tunnel where
everything became a vortice, and (Swap!) the space morphed into the
dimension of 2000: CD city.
Direct Manipulation Scene Creation in 3D: Estimating Hand Postures from
In virtual reality systems, virtual objects and scenes have so far been
created manually, or semi-automatically, by a variety of computer graphics
utility software. With this system, participants created virtual 3D scenes
by giving pre-defined commands with their own hands, to which no sensing
devices are attached. Since the virtual scenes were displayed on a 3D
display, participants felt as though the virtual scenes were real 3D spaces,
even though they were not encumbered by technological equipment.