Check out the slippers at the Tokyo Polytechnic.

























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Flick of a Finger


*Another intuitive way to use your hands in virtual reality is called gesture VR. Viewing a monitor of a virtual place, you move around inside that space by pointing and steering with your hands alone, without a glove. Two cameras track your hand motion, and a computer interprets what that motion means. For instance, raising your hand higher than your pointing finger means "move downward and forward." Developed by Bell Labs' researcher Jakob Segen, you can fly through Yosemite Valley or play the video game "Doom" without ever touching a computer.

An entirely different way to interact with a virtual space is the Constellation wireless motion-tracking system, developed by InterSense, Inc. of Burlington, Massachusetts. Here you actually walk through a real space where the ceiling is equipped with an array of ultrasonic transmitters. Each transmitter sends out frequent, high-pitched sounds which humans can't hear, and the system figures out where you are in the room by timing how long it takes for each sound to bounce off your head-mounted display and return to its own transmitter. To get a good idea not just of where you are but how you're moving, the system also includes an inertial navigation system that use six tiny gyroscopes mounted in your helmet to compute your acceleration.

Just as the computer's ability to interpret human actions in a virtual environment is becoming more sophisticated, so is the sensory feedback being offered the user. The Fantastic Phantom Slipper is a simulation that allows you to "walk" in a virtual space and feel what your feet would feel in a real space like it. To enter this world you put on a pair of slippers equipped with light-emitting diodes that a video camera tracks to follow you around. Tiny motors produce sensations in your soles. Developed at the Tokyo Institute of Polytechnics, it has so far only been used to make VR video games. In "Mouse Attacks," the Institute's website says, "A troop of mice are running around the player's feet." Feeling their presence near you, you sense where they are headed. "Points are earned by stamping on the mice," the description continues, "and there are bonus points for stamping on them with both feet." If you have trouble finding this display at SIGGRAPH, just look for the line with 200 ten-year-old boys in it.


Modeling | Rendering | Animation | Interaction | Virtual Reality | Synthetic Actors