Collaborative Virtual Reality
People have been sharing virtual
worlds of different kinds for quite a while now
|One way to do this is to have a large shared display like a CAVE or CAVE2 showing a single virtual world where multiple people in the same location share that virtual world where one person controls the viewpoint but one or more people might have interaction control. The participants see each other's real bodies, and talk to each other directly. This is co-located collaboration.|
If the participants
are not co-located then more infrastructure is needed. In this case each
participant is in their own virtual world (whether via HMD or a large
display) and is connected via a server to other participants sharing the
same space. Participants have avatar bodies - representations of their
tracked selves in the virtual world for others to see - and voice (and /
or video) is streamed between the participants.
Back in week 3 we showed a video on Dactyl Nightmare from 1991 where players wearing HMDs could see each other and shoot each other - https://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=dji9YiPZ4AM
Local Work from the mid to late 1990s exploring a range of options:
|Caterpillar - audio and video on moving screens that showed the position of the various collaborators - the screens were located where the users were located in the space, and the videos always oriented themselves (billboard) towards the user on the local site. The lack of articulated avatars made it difficult to point in the virtual space, but the trade-off was that you had a richer view of the expressions of the remote users. At the time available bandwidth only allowed low resolution greyscale video, but today you could stream much higher resolution as in skype or google hangout. Video of this kind works very well with fish tank VR setups, less well with room scale setups, and not very well at all with HMDs.|
|Virtual Temporal Bone - full body avatars would get in the way of this educational environment so only different coloured pointers are used showing where the user's tracked wand is in the space. Full body avatars also tend to give a sense of up and down which may not make sense in worlds such as this. Audio connections between the remote sites allow the doctor to explain the anatomy and students to ask questions, while being able to point at what they are talking about. This kind of collaboration works fine in any VR display.|
|CALVIN - simple articulated
avatars were used in this design environment that encouraged
people to work at different scales to set up a configurable room.
Tracking the head and hand of the user and providing an audio link
allowed people to see where each other were looking and pointing.
This kind of collaboration works fine in any VR display
|NICE - more articulated
avatars in an educational setting, and usage by more casual users
(issues of being able to see yourself, issues of 'equality',
emergent social patterns)
and a short paper about the issues of scaling this up a bit (nametags, colored costumes, etc.)
|TIDE - pointers with static
photographs attached. One issue with pointers (and avatars) is
knowing who is who. Attaching a name to a pointer is one solution
where you can quickly talk to the person with the appropriate
pointer since you see their name (assuming a shared character
set). If you already know the people in the collaboration you can
use photos to identify the pointers.
|Round Earth - participants in
a shared experience may not have the same capabilities in the
shared world. Here one person was on the surface of a small
asteroid moving forward / back / left / right, while the other
orbited above the asteroid. Having a body for the astronaut on the
surface allowed the person guiding from orbit to know where the
person they were guiding was located and which way they were
facing (though a bright arrow made this more obvious). Negotiating
and remapping directions were key to accomplishing the mission.
Audio as the most important channel
Video as a window, video as the
avatar, video for just the avatar face
You can also scan people in and have 3D realistic, but not mobile, 'statue' avatars
Today you can also get yourself scanned in a 3D scanner and generate an articulated avatar of yourself
for example - https://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=DYllOiFmwdc
Some more avatar bodies:
- you may want to choose one that shows where you are from
- another to make you look a bit more 'professional' - note the virtual 'name tag' hovering over the avatar to help identify who this is and where he/she is looking
Another issue to keep
in mind when you have multiple avatars in a space is whether they will
collide with each other and/or the walls and objects in the space.
Trying to get a bunch of people moving down a compact hallway can be
extremely challenging for people - think about a group of people all
trying to get off an elevator at the same time.
Avatars in Augmented Reality
People may not be seeing the same
exact shared world, especially in science and engineering domains.
VR across continents is rather easy to do technologically, somebody has
to stay late or come in early to collaborate synchronously with people
on the other side of the planet. Sometimes asynchronous collaboration is
better, but how do you coordinate your work?
One way is to record your voice and
gestures in the virtual world and then allow others to play them back
Virtual Harlem / V-Mail