Designing and implementing a virtual reality interaction framework

Rorke, Michael (2000) Designing and implementing a virtual reality interaction framework. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.

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Abstract

Virtual Reality offers the possibility for humans to interact in a more natural way with the computer and its applications. Currently, Virtual Reality is used mainly in the field of visualisation where 3Dgraphics allow users to more easily view complex sets of data or structures. The field of interaction in Virtual Reality has been largely neglected due mainly to problems with input devices and equipment costs. Recent research has aimed to overcome these interaction problems, thereby creating a usable interaction platform for Virtual Reality. This thesis presents a background into the field of interaction in Virtual Reality. It goes on to propose a generic framework for the implementation of common interaction techniques into a homogeneous application development environment. This framework adds a new layer to the standard Virtual Reality toolkit – the interaction abstraction layer, or interactor layer. This separation is in line with current HCI practices. The interactor layer is further divided into specific sections – input component, interaction component, system component, intermediaries, entities and widgets. Each of these performs a specific function, with clearly defined interfaces between the different components to promote easy objectoriented implementation of the framework. The validity of the framework is shown in comparison with accepted taxonomies in the area of Virtual Reality interaction. Thus demonstrating that the framework covers all the relevant factors involved in the field. Furthermore, the thesis describes an implementation of this framework. The implementation was completed using the Rhodes University CoRgi Virtual Reality toolkit. Several postgraduate students in the Rhodes University Computer Science Department utilised the framework implementation to develop a set of case studies. These case studies demonstrate the practical use of the framework to create useful Virtual Reality applications, as well as demonstrating the generic nature of the framework and its extensibility to be able to handle new interaction techniques. Finally, the generic nature of the framework is further demonstrated by moving it from the standard CoRgi Virtual Reality toolkit, to a distributed version of this toolkit. The distributed implementation of the framework utilises the Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA) to implement the distribution of the objects in the system. Using this distributed implementation, we are able to ascertain that CORBA is useful in the field of distributed real-time Virtual Reality, even taking into account the extra overhead introduced by the additional abstraction layer. We conclude from this thesis that it is important to abstract the interaction layer from the other layers of a Virtual Reality toolkit in order to provide a consistent interface to developers. We have shown that our framework is implementable and useful in the field, making it easier for developers to include interaction in their Virtual Reality applications. Our framework is able to handle all the current aspects of interaction in Virtual Reality, as well as being general enough to implement future interaction techniques. The framework is also applicable to different Virtual Reality toolkits and development platforms, making it ideal for developing general, cross-platform interactive Virtual Reality applications.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Virtual reality, Computer simulation, Computer graphics, Human-computer interaction
Subjects:Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Computer Science
ID Code:2285
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:01 Dec 2011 06:37
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:22
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