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Virtual reality comes in many flavours - from immersive (with a head set or in a CAVE) to jerky simulated 3D on a TV screen. The extension of the Web into Cyberspace where you can fly down shopping malls clicking on products and talking to other shoppers is some time away, as the bandwidth required, for such substitutes for driving to the real shopping centre, is very high and is unlikely to be available soon.
Starting towards the end of April 2002 we have been significantly updating the topic pages, which identify web-based resources worthy of further investigation.
A list of research laboratories that are undertaking VR work is a useful starting place provided by the Virtual Reality Society.
On the Net: resources in VR
On the Net is a resource site for VR that links to a wide range of commercial and academic sites. It lists the research groups around the world working in VR and their particular areas of expertise. There are bibliographic and other resource guides. It belongs to the Human Interface Technology Lab at the University of Washington. In Spring, 1999, the Knowledge Base Project completed its work. The publications and pages remain online for the benefit of the virtual reality community. Be aware, however, that the information is not current. .
Animation World Network (AWN)
Animation World Network, a division of Creative Planet, has on its web site:"Web Animation Guide" which features weekly coverage of web animation news, and an "Animation Showcase" - which provides an online venue for animation artists to exhibit their work industry-wide.
URL: AWN http://www.awn.com/
URL: Creative Planet http://www.creativeplanet.com/
CMP Media owned web site focused on 3D technology, has news, tools, techniques and downloads. It seems to have last been updated in December 2001. CMP addresses these markets through its DV Group (Digital Video magazine, DV Web Video magazine, DV Expo, and DV.com), the Game Media Group (Game Developer magazine, Gamasutra.com, and the Game Developer Conference), and the CAD Media Group (Cadence magazine and cadenceweb.com).
URL: 3Dgate.com http://www.3Dgate.com/
URL: DV Group http://www.DV.com/
URL: Game Media Group http://www.gamanetwork.com/
URL: CAD Media Group http://www.cadenceweb.com/
VR motion capture
The following sites give links to vendors and research in the area of VR motion capture - they are not vendors of motion capture software themselves. See also the products pages.
URL: Motion Capture research http://www.visgraf.impa.br/Projects/mcapture/hotlinks.html
URL: El.pub products pages http://www.elpub.org/base09.htm
The Contact Consortium
The Contact Consortium arranges the Avatars series of events - conferences which take place in Cyberspace. Further information about the organisers, and other events and groups they are connected with, along with links to many resources and projects related to Virtual Worlds is available from their web site.
VR - a 3D vision
"VR - a 3D vision" is the title of a paper presented by Geoffrey Stephenson, coordinator of INFORM (the project supporting this website), to the Virtual Reality in Education & Training (VRET '98) conference, held in London, in July 1998. The short text version of his 40 minute digital video presentation, covering the main points, is available for download as a Word 7 PC-zipped file.
The paper considers virtual reality in the publishing environment and the problems to be faced by the R&D community if it is to develop. The author concludes with a stark warning that VR publishing should not simply be viewed as an extension of print publishing, a mistake made by the early publishers of CD-ROMs when they attempted to reuse content designed for a print environment in the new medium.
A contention of the paper is that games like "TombRaider" are interactive fiction in the tradition of Jason and the Argonauts and other myths. These ideas can be followed in the debate "Digital storytelling: Is it art?" from Hotwired and the web resource page for the book "Hamlet on the Holodeck" by Janet H. Murray.
URL: VR - a 3D vision http://www.elpub.org/vr3d.zip
URL: Digital storytelling http://www.hotwired.com/synapse/braintennis/97/31/index0a.html
URL: web resource page http://web.mit.edu/jhmurray/www/HOH.html
VREfresh - Virtual Reality in Europe newsletter
VREfresh, is an electronic newsletter, published on this site and aimed at existing and prospective buyers and suppliers of Virtual Reality (VR) and interactive, three-dimensional products and services. It sets out to promote the successful adoption of VR and interactive 3D systems. A free email version is also available by sending a message to the email below, with "subscribe VREfresh" in the subject field.
URL: VREfresh on El.pub base02vta.htm
The Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation
"The Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation", is an e-journal concerned with computer simulation of social processes.
Simulation Interoperability Standards Organisation
The Simulation Interoperability Standards Organization (SISO) is "dedicated to facilitating simulation interoperability across a wide spectrum, SISO provides forums, educates on implementation, and supports standards development". The Simulation Interoperability Standards Organization (SISO) originated with a small conference held April 26 and 27, 1989, called, "Interactive Networked Simulation for Training". The conferences soon developed into the Distributed Interactive Simulation (DIS) Workshops and were now focused on creating standards based on the major project SIMNET which was established as the baseline standard from which to move forward. The organisation publishes a newsletter, subscribe online.
CAVEs (Cave Automatic Virtual Environment)
The Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) is a graduate research laboratory specialising in virtual reality, real-time interactive computer graphics and electronic visualisation. EVL developed the CAVE, a room-sized virtual reality (VR) device, in 1991, and has since continued to enhance CAVE technology, by creating derivative projection-based VR devices (such as the ImmersaDesk, ImmersaDesk2 and PARIS - Personal Augmented Reality Immersive System).
Electronic Visualisation is the art and science of creating images in electronic media and on virtual reality display devices. The primary goal of the EVL's Electronic Visualisation graduate program is to further students' visual goals using the tools of advanced computer graphics, computer animation, interactive graphics, video, and virtual reality (VR). Related research goals include scientific visualisation, new methodologies for informal science and engineering education, paradigms for information display, distributed computing, sonification, human/computer interfaces, every-citizen interfaces, and abstract math visualisation. EVL is also involved in evaluating VR as an educational tool.
Current research focuses upon developing the software to support collaborative, virtual environments, and the networking over which these applications are shared. Research is also going forward to utilize video, audio and database technologies to provide seamless, collaborative, virtual environments for design, interactive art and data visualisation.
Virtual communities - MUDS and MOOS
The next stage in the evolution of the online communities pioneered by Multi-User Dimensions (MUDS) and MOOs (MUD object oriented) is in the addition of 3D virtual space. See the avatar teleport page for entry into such communities.
MOO home page at MUD.ORG
Diversity University Main Campus is extraordinary and unique as the first MOO to designed specifically for classroom use.
TECFA is a research and teaching unit belonging to the Faculté de Psychologie et des Sciences de l'Education ("School of Psychology and Education") of the University of Geneva. It is active in the field of educational technology and MOO and MUD research, in particular.
MUD Connector is web site that lists over 1200 MUDs and covers the subject in depth with articles and resources.
Nearlife and the Museum of Science, Boston have created "The Virtual FishTank" which immerses visitors in a 1,700-square-foot undersea world where they can interact with simulated cartoon-like fish, and design their own. A creation of Nearlife, the MIT Media Lab and The Computer Museum, the original FishTank opened at The Computer Museum, Boston, in 1998 and is available on the web.
URL: Museum of Science, Boston http://www.mos.org/
URL: Nearlife http://www.nearlife.com/
URL: Virtual Fishtank http://www.virtualfishtank.com/
Helsinki in 3D
Helsinki Arena 2000 is a web site developed by the Helsinki Telephone Corporation (HTC) to study and develop interactive value added Internet services. The project developed a 3D model of Helsinki, to enable people to walk through the city in virtual reality.
Virtual Learning Environments
We have published a separate section on Virtual Learning Environments which bring together a range of tools that have been used for some time to support distance learning: email and discussion boards, MOOs (multi-user, object-oriented discussion), file exchange, the web, computer-aided assessment. A key new feature is the support for managing student information, and creating personalised working spaces. Additionally, many VLEs contain basic authoring tools to enable academics with limited Web experience to place teaching resources online. Many VLEs are now available, with some or all of the features listed above.
URL: Virtual Learning Environments on El.pub top010h.htm
VR on the web continues to grow
VR on the web is growing rapidly aided by the inclusion of VR capabilities in web browsers. Two interesting places worth a visit are the Contact Consortium, a non profit research organisation dedicated to the development of inhabited virtual environments on the Internet which also has an extensive hotlinks section, and "The VRML Site Magazine". The Contact Consortium provide links to a number of 3D worlds where you can visit or 'live' as an avatar. The VRML site magazine provides useful technical information and links to VRML sites around the 'world' - though according to our research it was last updated in 1997.
URL: Contact Consortium http://www.ccon.org/
URL: hot links http://www.ccon.org/hotlinks/hotlinks.html
URL: VRML Site Magazine http://www.vrmlsite.com/
Biota.org - digital biology in cyberspace
Biota.org, the digital biology project, is pioneering lifelike paradigms for cyberspace.
Pablo research group at University of Illinois are working on visualisation of software in a VR environment. The objective of the Virtue project is the development of virtual environments that allow software developers to directly manipulate software components and their behaviour while immersed in scalable, hierarchical representations of software structure and real-time performance data.
Alice, a 3D world creation package that has been developed by Carnegie Mellon Univ. Alice is based on Python and is a high level scripting system that enables interactive multimedia to be created from simple objects. An example of the level of the script language is "bunny.head.pointat(camera)". The Alice system is free, under continual development and can provide output for Web pages (needs a plug-in for display) and is recommended for download to anyone interested in interactive 3D graphics and VR.
For a complete list of commercial software products - see the products page on El.pub at: base09.htm
See the standards topic page for more on VR standards and related web-based, and interactive 3 D (I3D) standards and the standards bodies and consortia responsible for their development.
- Web3D Consortium
- Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML)
- GeoVRML 1.0
- 3 Dimensional Markup Language (3DML)
URL: Standards topic page on El.pub top011.htm
3D for clothes retail
Limited Too, the retailer of fashion clothing and accessories for pre-teen and early teenage girls, has improved its retail web site by allowing visitors to interact with its fashion line in 3D. Limited Too, with the help of Red Rover, recently implemented the Virtuoso 3D technology from Virtue. Since launching the 3D portion of its Web site, Limited Too has seen a significant lift in sales of items that are featured using the 3D technology. Says Miki Racine, Director, Internet & E-Commerce at Limited Too: "By using 3D, our customers get a better 'feel' for the online merchandise in terms of color, patterns and fabric texture. Since our customer is the 7 to 14 year old girl, it also makes the shopping experience more fun and interactive, which is very important to the Limited Too brand."
Seeing Machines has developed technology that tracks a person's gaze-point and facial expression through a pair of video cameras. The technology, created by Professor Zelinsky and his team of researchers at the Australian National University, in conjunction with Trent Victor from Volvo Technology Development, will be commercialized by the company startup Seeing Machines.
The company will market systems targeted at a number of key areas. These include:
- detecting pilot / driver fatigue and inattention,
- interactive multimedia applications such as game and web avatar interfaces,
- motion capture for both high-end and real-time computer animation,
- and marketing analysis tools for television ratings, website design, and critical analysis of visual impact.
Faces for your email
E-rage, E-mope, and Glad-mail your friends, family and colleagues, with the aid of a cast of comic characters that live in your PC and recite your mail with changing expressions and moods. What's more, you can trigger those changes yourself as you compose messages to others. The service integrates with Microsoft Outlook 97, 98, 2000, or operates alongside most other email utilities.
URL: VR news section base02vt.htm
The SGI/TAN Reality Center in Dusseldorf, aims to give researchers in institutes and industry, "the opportunity to view the latest in VR software and systems".
Virtual trade shows expand
US company Internet Virtual Trade Shows have announced that they have 2,263 exhibitors in 59 different industry specific virtual trade shows - indicating the market is steadily growing.
3D optical trade show
H-NET.COM runs a Virtual Trade (V-Trade) show for the optical industry. Products are displayed in 3D on the web site, enabling visitors to rotate, zoom and turn displayed merchandise in all directions providing a more realistic display. V-Trade uses the H-NET transaction processing network to transfer funds, handle product enquires, credit information and product information from the Trade Show E-commerce site.
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