Virtual Reality Undergraduate Project Laboratories

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Projects

The VRUPL will conduct a wide variety of VR related projects, based on student and faculty interests and available resources. Here are a few of our initial plans:

Holodeck Project

One of the best ways to learn is through example.  The holodeck is intended to allow an instructor to create a completely virtual world to make a demonstration.  The class will network in to the instructor's world and interact while the teacher guides the students.

Virtual UIC

Explore the UIC Campus and find your way to class if you get lost.  This includes BSB... No one knows how to work that building!

Virtual Reality Based Laboratory Accidents

Every year hundreds of students and others are injured in laboratory accidents, in spite of all safety precautions. One reason for this is that people tend to become forgetful and complacent, and stop observing safe laboratory procedures. Those who have experienced laboratory accidents, however, will remember those experiences much longer than any set of written rules. Therefore the overall goal of this project is to produce a set of VR based accident simulations, to allow users to experience first-hand the consequences of not following safe laboratory procedures.

Eight to ten different accident scenarios are planned, each with both an "obey the rule" and a "disobey the rule" option. In order to have the greatest possible impact on the widest possible audience, the modules will be developed in both web-based ( VRML, Java3D, WorldUp ) formats and binary executable ( C Programming, WorldToolKit, OpenGL ) formats, and will be distributed free of charge via the world wide web.

Development of VR-Based Educational Simulations

This area is a continuation of previous work done at the Virtual Reality in Chemical Engineering Laboratory ( VRiChEL ) at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Please see that site for further details.

Device Development and Testing

There are two types of projects planned for this general area:

  • Testing and evaluation of head-mounted displays, wired gloves, tracking devices, and other peripheral devices, to determine their usefulness for PC-based virtual reality. ( Many of the products of VRUPL are intended for student use, who are presumed more likely to have access to high-speed personal computers than Silicon Graphics supercomputers. )
  • Development of new user interface devices for special purposes. This work may be done in support of ongoing research at the Electronic Visualization Laboratory or independently.

Integration of Physical Equipment and/or Models with VR Display and Interfaces

This area involves a connection between a computer simulation and external physical device(s), either as a control interface, or for real-time augmented data visualization, or for other purposes. Some possible projects include:

  • Telerobotics - Interface a ( networked ) computer to a physical model such as a radio controlled car on a small track. Adding a digital video camera to the front of the car will allow users to remotely operate the car, either through a virtual reality interface or through more traditional computer control. The controllability of the car can then be compared under three scenarios: 1. A user in the room with the car, using traditional RC controls. 2. A user with a remote computer screen, controlling the car using camera imagery and Java controls. 3. A remote user with a head-mounted display, wired glove(s), and/or other VR peripheral devices. ( Note: "car" is used as an example, and could just as easily be a plane, train, lunar rover, etc. )
  • Real-time visualization of experimental data. A computer equipped with data collection hardware ( thermocouples, pressure gauges, strain gauges, etc. ) will feed experimental data in real time to a VR-based simulation. The simulation could be either a realistic or idealized visualization of the process from which the data is being collected. Alternatively, augmented reality could be utilized to provide a "heads-up" overlay of process visualization on top of the users' view of the real equipment.

Scientific Visualization

  • Display of GAMESS ( molecular modeling ) data in VRML and/or the CAVE.
  • Extension of traditional graphical calculational techniques to higher-dimensional space, through the three-dimensional immersive, interactive interface of VR. ( This project is currently being started as a Masters level project, but there are also opportunities for undergraduate assistance. )

Human-Computer Interface

Development of a non hand-mimicking interfaces for wired glove input. E.g., develop manual tools & gestures instead of a virtual hand. ( Sign language, hand-puppet, marionette interfaces? ) General study of gesture recognition and gesture-based HCI.