Virtual reality (VR)is a term that applies to computer-simulated environments that can simulate physicalpresence in places in the real world, as well as in imaginary worlds.Most current virtual reality environments are primarily visual experiences, displayed either on acomputer screen or through special stereoscopic displays, but some simulations includeadditional sensory information, such as sound through speakers or headphones.virtual reality covers remote communication environments which provide virtual presence ofusers with the concepts oftelepresence and telexistence. or a virtual artifact (VA) eitherthrough the use of standard input devices such as a keyboard and mouse, orthrough multimodal devices such as a wired glove, the Polhemus, and omnidirectionaltreadmills.The simulated environment can be similar to the real world in order to create a lifelikeexperience.
Terminology and ConceptThe term "artificial reality", coined by Myron Krueger, has been in use since the 1970s;however, the origin of the term "virtual reality" can be traced back to the Frenchplaywright, poet, actor, and director Antonin Artaud.The earliest use cited by the Oxford English Dictionary is in a 1987 article titled "Virtualreality", but the article is not about VR technology. The concept of virtual reality was popularizedin mass media by movies such as Brainstorm and The Lawnmower Man.
Among the earlier hypermedia and virtual reality systems was the Aspen Movie Map, which wascreated at MIT in 1977.The program was a crude virtual simulation of Aspen, Colorado in which users could wander thestreets in one of three modes: summer, winter, and polygons.The first two were based on photographs—the researchers actually photographed every possiblemovement through the citys street grid in both seasons—and the third was a basic 3-D model ofthe city.In the late 1980s, the term "virtual reality" was popularized by Jaron Lanier, one of the modernpioneers of the field. Lanier had founded the company VPL Research in 1985, which developed andbuilt some of the seminal "goggles and gloves" systems of that decade.In 1991, Antonio Medina, a MIT graduate and NASA scientist, designed a virtual reality system to"drive" Mars rovers from Earth in apparent real time despite the substantial delay of Mars-Earth-Mars signals.Timeline
Cave Automatic Virtual EnvironmentA Cave Automatic VirtualEnvironment (better known by the recursiveacronym CAVE) is an immersive virtualreality environment where projectors aredirected to three, four, five or six of the wallsof a room-sized cube. The name is also areference to the allegory of theCave in Platos Republic where a philosophercontemplates perception, reality and illusion.The first CAVE was developed in the ElectronicVisualization Laboratory at University ofIllinois at Chicago.
The CAVE is a large theatre that sits in a larger room measured a varied size.The walls of the CAVE are made up of rear-projection screens, and the floor is made of a down-projection screen. High-resolution projectors display images on each of the screens by projectingthe images onto mirrors which reflect the images onto the projection screens.The user will go inside of the CAVE wearing special glasses to allow for the 3-D graphics that aregenerated by the CAVE to be seen.With these glasses, people using the CAVE can actually see objects floating in the air, and canwalk around them, getting a proper view of what the object would look like when they walkaround it. This is made possible with electromagnetic sensors.The frame of the CAVE is made out of non-magnetic stainless steel in order to interfere as little aspossible with the electromagnetic sensors. When a person walks around in the CAVE, theirmovements are tracked with these sensors and the video adjusts accordingly.Computers control this aspect of the CAVE as well as the audio aspects. There are multiplespeakers placed from multiple angles in the CAVE, giving one not only 3-D video, but 3-D audio aswell.
Typical applications include:- architectural walk-throughs- evaluation of engineering designs (virtual prototyping)- training for dangerous situations and other scenarios- human modeling (human factors and ergonomics)- virtual reconstruction of archeological sites- medical and biological visualization- artistic expression of ideasSoftwareCAVELib is the original Application ProgrammersInterface (API) developed for the CAVE(TM) systemcreated at the Electronic Visualization Lab atUniversity of Illinois Chicago.There are 3 popular scene graphs in usetoday: OpenSG, OpenSceneGraph, and OpenGLPerformer.
Second LifeSecond Life is an online virtual world developed by Linden Lab which was launched on June23, 2003.A number of free client programs called Viewers enable Second Life users, called Residents, tointeract with each other through avatars.Residents can explore the world (known as the grid), meet other residents, socialize, participate inindividual and group activities, and create and trade virtual property and services with oneanother .Second Life is intended for people aged 13 and over, and as of 2011 has more than 20 millionregistered user accounts.
Built into the software is a three-dimensional modeling tool based around simple geometric shapesthat allows residents to build virtual objects.There is also a procedural scripting language, Linden Scripting Language, which can be used to addinteractivity to objects.More complex three-dimensional sculpted prims (colloquially known as sculpties), textures forclothing or other objects, and animations and gestures can be created using external software.The Second Life Terms of Service provide that users retain copyright for any content they create, andthe server and client provide simple digital rights management functions.In early phases ,it was noticed that the participants were particularly responsive to thecollaborative, creative potential of Second Life. As a result the initial objective-driven, gamingfocus of Second Life was shifted to a more user-created, community-driven experience.
YOUTUBE VIDEOSexperience can’t be explained in words……so let’s see…
Real life construction completed on innovative homes prototyped inSecond Lifehttp://archvirtual.com/?p=2628Construction has completed(24th June2010) on designs first prototyped in SecondLife by students at the University of AustinSchool of Architecture.The prototypes were the result of acollaboration between Professor SergioPalleroni’s students and the students of Dr.Leslie Jarmon’s “Communicating Across theDisciplines” graduate course.Project Name – Alley Flats
Project- Palomar West Medical Campus in San Diegocurrently under construction –scheduled to open in 2011.http://archvirtual.com/?p=2208Area - 775,000 square feetThe virtual prototype was used byCisco to showcase the facility’scommunications features throughimmersive simulations in SecondLife.
Application and Evaluation of Collaborative VirtualEnvironments in Design EducationA Case Study..
Two Architecture Schools that are geographically separated provided students with a learningexperience in Collaborative Virtual Environments (CVEs).Technologies are changing the way design is conducted. Computer Aided Design (CAD)packages and the availability of high bandwidth networks have offered new collaborativeenvironments for design. Despite the impact of the technologies, there still remain thefundamental skill sets of design, one of which is effective collaborative skills.Schools introduced them to designing in the virtual domain and provided a forum with thepotential for high levels of collaboration. Students were involved in the collaborative designing andimplementation of a “Virtual Home” in Second Life, a commercial 3D virtual world.A comprehensive questionnaire was developed and used in the end of the collaboration forstudents to reflect and evaluate their design and collaborative experiences.
In design education, web-based tools have been widely used (Craig & Zimring, 2000; Rummel etal., 2005) in particular in the form of online design studios. Broadfoot and Bennet (2003) defineonline design studio as a web based studio, which is a “networked studio, distributed across spaceand time”The participants of an online design studio maybe in different locations handling designcommunications via computer.virtual design studios (Maher, 1999; Kvan, 2001; Schnabel et al. 2001) have been set up by architectureand design schools around the globe aiming to provide a shared “place” where distant designcollaboration especially synchronous communications and design activities can take place.The forms of virtual design studios vary from the early approach of digital design data sharing to themore recent 3D virtual world approach where the designs as well as the designers and learners aresimulated and represented in the virtual worlds allowing the so called “design and learning within thedesign”.This new phenomenon has caught the attention of many design academics. The effects of CVEs on thelearning process, on the creativity and on the quality of the design solutions and design process arecurrently of heated debate in academia.
A collaborative design studio in Second LifeThe collaborative design studio was the result of an international collaboration between theUniversity of Newcastle, Australia, and Rangsit University, Thailand. “NU Genesis”, a virtual island inSecond Life was set up as the virtual site for collaborative design and learning. Students from bothuniversities collaborated over the period of 5 weeks on a design project titled “Virtual Home”.The aim of this course was for students(1) to understand and develop the essential skills of collaborative design and modelingusing CVEs.(2) to develop the understanding and hands-on experience of CVEs as a new kind of environmentdesign.
Collaborative design projectEach group designed and implemented a place in Second Life which demonstrated their concept ofa “Virtual Home” and this extended the boundaries of a physical home (developed by students inan earlier conventional design studio).Through interactions between the avatars and the “Virtual Home”, the group’s understanding ofexperience in the “Virtual Home” would need to be demonstrated.The “Virtual Home” and the collaborative experience in CVEs of each group were documented in aslide presentation.
Perceptions of students to collaborative design and learningFollowing the completion of the course, students in both institutions were askedto complete a questionnaire covering the following aspects:-Evaluating the effectiveness of the tools for communication and design (10 questions - on afive-point Likert scale statements).-Identifying likes and dislikes on the collaboration process (10 open-ended questions).-Evaluating the collaborative design and learning process (10 questions - on a five-point Likertscale statements).- Providing background information of the students.
•The sample size is good with, 32 of a class of 36 responding.•56% of the students were male.•70% of the students have 2-3 years design experience•22% of them have only 1 year design experience.•100% of the students have a personal computer, only 17% of them do not have internetconnection at home.•96% of the students experienced Second Life for the first time during this course.• The students are considered both as novice designers and CVEs users.SAMPLE SIZE
Questionnaire1. Communication42% of the students stayed as neutral when comparing email correspondence with SecondLife communication. 32% of the students thought Second Life as a communication tool was“effective/very effective.”-Students were divided about comparing Second Life and other asynchronouscommunication technology such as blogs and wikis. 35% of the students ratedas “effective/very effective”, the chat channel in Second Life, as a tool tocommunicate and share ideas whilst 33% of the students rated “not effective/not very effective”.- 45% of the students thought that MSN messenger is more effective synchronouscommunication tool than Second Life is. 42% of the students rated as neutral.
2. Design supportStudents were divided about how satisfied they are with the decisions and solutionsdeveloped in the collaboration task. 39% of the students rated as neutral, another 39%were “dissatisfied/ very dissatisfied”.Teamwork: Some students found it difficult to work together citing inability to meet face-to-face. 51% of the students “agreed/strongly agreed” with that statement, and 25% ofthe students “disagreed/strongly disagreed”.-51% of the students found managing team activities difficult in remote designing.- 40% of the students “agreed/strongly agreed” that teamwork tasks encouragedcollaborative learning. 42% of the students were not sure as they rated neutral.- 55% of the students did not establish a plan or procedure for teamwork.- 48% of the students thought that they gained knowledge and skills from theirgroup members during the collaboration project.
STUDENT COMMENTSCommunication“*...+ Synchronous (communication) was (the) most effective when meeting howeverasynchronous (communication was the most effective) when organizing meetings and givinggroup information”.“Text-based chat was the most appropriate. Audio can be a helpful tool butdepends on the connection”.
Design Support“*...+ 3D collaborative modeling - instantaneous and easy to relay. [...] I like that the group could seeobjects being made instantaneously-could discuss. [...] dislike that it was hard to meet at the same time”.“Second Life is not compatible with other rendering software and has basic modeling technologies.But application of textures and lighting is excellent.[...] (Second Life is) very easy and quick for modeling”.“3D is easier to understand the concept of the design and gives an impression ofhow it looks/behaves.[...] Second Life was an entertaining, novel mode of communication, but was not often helpful, as itrequired every group member to be online”.
Teamwork“*...+ Face-to-face meeting was the most productive”.“*...+ Email was good because we did not need to co-ordinate meeting times.Second Life face-to-face and phone call were good to get fast responses.[...]Coordination of both emails and messages are useful to coordinate a meetingon Second Life”.“*...+ (I dislike emails because) people don’t regularly check their emails and therefore it sloweddown (the) progress”.“*...+ (I like that) Second Life - could communicate instantly whilst exploring options andactivities”.
RESULTThe results of the questionnaire indicate polarization among students over the tools used duringthe collaboration project.The results and our observation and discussion with the students indicate some majorcollaboration management problems, which impacted on the overall satisfaction on their designdecisions.The design outcomes clearly indicate that the students are able to design and implement theirideas and concepts in Second Life to a satisfactory level.However, the students in both universities were frustrated with several problems including:collaboration management, monitoring tasks and responsibilities of each member, delay inresponses, language barriers, cultural differences, the lack of shared understanding of thedesign concepts and ideas, and lack of common goal in collaboration.
FURTHER DEVELOPMENTThe students identified the following features of CVEs as requiring future development:Support for 3D design developmentThe 3D representation of design allows clearer and more effective design communication amonggroup members, compared to 2D sketches. The 3D representation provides an instant visualfeedback of design creation and modification.collaboration support tools are necessary for keeping track of design ideas and development in agroup chat situation.Effective monitoring of group activities would encourage participation.There is a need for better support of collaborative 3D modeling, including: referencing and pointingobjects, more complex modeling and object sharing, including: version control, compatibility andcompliance with professional CAD standards .
Concluding remarksObservations show that the course provides students with opportunity for design collaborationin remote locations and new experiences of virtual design.Students learn collectively during the design processes experiencing both asynchronous andsynchronous collaboration.Highlighted the following issues that need to be considered when implementingcollaborative design and learning in CVEs.Degree of collaboration.Management of Collaboration.Nature of Collaborative Design Task.