Designing interfaces for virtual worlds of tomorrow
The experience provided by today’s virtual reality equipment is a powerful tool capable to create great emotions and feelings of excitement to users who try it. Recent advances in technology have provided affordable and reliable virtual reality systems, which are expected to have an important impact on consumers and industries. Augmented reality technologies benefited as well from hardware advances, and in few years will be able to augment the user experience by empowering users with ever more effective ways to interact with the real and virtual worlds.
Despite the relevance of the above achievements, developments are still required especially in the context of human-machine interaction in order to make users feel fully immersed and present in the virtual or augmented environments.
VR@POLITO is actively exploring this domain, by focusing on various interaction perspectives, with the aim of further enhancing user experience with next-generation systems.
In particular, studies have been carried out to improve hand gesture-based interaction in wearable settings. For instance, a custom upper limb motion tracking device has been developed, which exploits inertial measurement units to enable interactions outside the field of view of common inside/out sensors available, e.g., on virtual and augmented reality headsets like the HTC Vive, or the Microsoft Hololens. Activities have been carried out in collaboration with the University of Ontario, Institute of Technology (UOIT). Results have been reported in a work which was presented at the IISA 2018 conference, where it won the Best student paper award.
Further activities have been devoted to locomotion. In particular, efforts are aimed at charactering the functionality of various approaches and devices which have been proposed so far for moving in virtual spaces (while possibly interacting with / manipulating objects). More specifically, arm swinging-based techniques (which are quite common in today’s systems) are compared with innovative approaches based on the “walk in place” paradigm as well as with omnidirectional treadmills which are appearing on the market. A work has been published already reporting the results of a preliminary user study with a limited set of experiments which was carried out in collaboration with SiTI – Istituto Superiore sui Sistemi Territoriali per l’Innovazione. A more in-depth analysis is under development.
A further area which is currently explored is that of haptic interaction. In particular, the VR@POLITO will participate in the challenge organized by the 26th IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces (IEEE VR 2019) conference, by proposing a solution based on affordable physical passive objects and consumer devices like virtual reality headsets, gloves and other tracking equipment.