14. Introduction to Virtual Reality

Full Day / Beginning

An introduction to virtual reality using immersive displays. This course covers system requirements, hardware, design of applications, and implementation of virtual worlds. The emphasis is on practical issues that must be addressed to begin working in virtual environments.

Who Should Attend
Those who wish to create immersive virtual environments.

Anselmo Lastra
Henry Fuchs
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Pat Gelband

Stephen Ghee
Division Limited

Hans Weber
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Randy Pausch
University of Virginia


8:30 am: Introduction - Fuchs

Course overview
Components of a VR system

9:00 am: Hardware - Lastra

This section briefly describes technologies used in commercially available systems, concentrating on the basic knowledge necessary to judge the tradeoffs that must be made when purchasing hardware. We will show key specifications of the major commercial products available on the market at the time the notes go to press.

Head-Mounted Displays
Specifications, such as field of view
What to expect from HMDs
Survey of commercial HMDs

Image Generators
What types of systems you can use for VR
Important specs, such as fill rate
How to generate separate frames for stereo
Survey of IGs

10:00 am: Break

10:15 am: Hardware (continued) - Lastra


Magnetic tracker technology
Limitations and problems
Survey of trackers

Input devices

10:40 am: What can you do in a Virtual World? - Weber

So you've just blown your budget on state-of-the-art VR equipment, now what do you do? How do you turn this high priced View Master into a fully immersive, interactive virtual environment?

The design of virtual worlds
Coordinate Systems for VR
Modes of interaction, tools, etc.

12:00 noon: Break

1:30 pm: Alice, a rapid-prototyping development environment - Pausch

System overview
The separation of rendering from simulation

Running simulations with Alice
Python, a high-level interpreted language
Class libraries
Cameras, lights, heads-up-displays
Handling text
The importance of two-handed interaction techniques
Voice and sound

Programming Examples

2:30 pm: Distributed Virtual Reality - dVS - Ghee

dVISE, a virtual design environment

3:00 pm: Break

3:15 pm: Distributed Virtual Reality - dVS (continued) - Ghee

Principles of networked virtual environments

3:50 pm: Virtual Environment Development with WorldToolKit - Gelband

Creating geometry
Loading DXF, 3DS, OBJ files
Constructing geometry interactively

Viewpoint configuration
Adding sensors
Viewpoint parameters

Placing dynamic objects
Sensor constraints
Object snap-to

Configuring objects
Scaling and deforming objects
Object hierarchies

Adding behavior to objects
Collision detection
Pathing and terrain following

Optimizing performance
Object simplification and level-of-detail

4:50 pm: Conclusion - Lastra

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