Electric Garden

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 97 attendees."

 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 planets.

Virtual Basketball

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.

Sunset Boulevard

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.

Garnet Vision

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 object-oriented display.

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 dynamical behavior.

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 Multiple-Camera Images

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.