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  • Sun 22 Jul 2007

    Echochrome – 3D game with M.C. Escher perspective

    Published at 19:19   Category 3d, Game  

    by FUJIKI Ju for Sony, PS3 and PSP, 2008.
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    Fri 20 Jul 2007

    IPT/EGVE 2007 – Hardware

    Published at 17:34   Category VR Devices  

    I just returned from Weimar, Germany, attending the Immersive Projection Technologies/Eurographics Symposium on Virtual Environments.

    This has been a really interesting event. I’ve met some very nice people and learned a lot of things!

    I’ll try to speak about the conferences later. In the meantime here are some photos.
    Here are three pieces of hardware that were presented here that I particularly enjoyed :

    Intersense IS-1200 VisTracker

    Which I already presented here.

    A.R.T. FingerTracking with Tactile Feedback

    A.R.T. was presenting a prototype of its FingerTracking with tactile feedback. Three little wires enclose your fingers and vibrate can vibrate with differente intensities. This allows to “feel” when you touch an object, and have more precision when manipulating objects, especially when you don’t have a stereo display.

    Haption Virtuose 6D Desktop

    A small professional and precise haptics device with 6DOF (position+orientation), already presented at Laval Virtual 2007 :

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    Fri 20 Jul 2007

    Intersense IS-1200 VisTracker

    Published at 17:32   Category Augmented Reality, VR Devices  

    Back at IPT/EGVE, Intersense was presenting its MictroTrax and new Wand. The head tracker is really small, and the wand is smaller. It can fit on cheap, lightweight passive stereo glasses without any problem. I did the setup of their installation in no time, it’s all VRPN compatible already (except for the trigger but that should be easy and fast to fix).

    They had also a new tracker, the IS-1200 VisTracker. All their trackers use an internal inertial tracker (accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometer), which have very fast update rates, but tend to drift. The IS-900 trackers use ultrasound emitters to recalibrate this drift. The VisTracker instead uses a camera that matches Augmented Reality patterns anywhere in your room.

    Intersense had sent us the tracker and the associated UMPC so that we could setup Virtools demos.

    - The VisTracker, mounted on a UMPC Vaio UX 280 -

    - The AR patterns -

    - A close-up of the UMPC -

    The UMPC is a Sony Vaio UX 280, running on Windows XP which has an Intel CPU at 1.2GHZ with 1Gb of RAM. Virtools runs perfectly on this. The display is really bright. The only problem is the size of the keys! Maybe with a virtual laser keyboard this would be more practical.

    I believe there is still some work to do for the tracking to work flawlessly. The inertial tracker drifts quite fast, and it takes a couple of seconds for the camera to recalibrate when if finds an AR pattern. Once it has two in sight it works quite fine excepts that it sometimes loses the patterns every now and then.

    With this system you can print your own AR patterns, stick them anywhere in your building, register their position in the software. This allows you to be precisely tracked in a potentially huge surface for a flat fee!
    Here’s an official video :

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    Fri 20 Jul 2007

    News on Brain Computer Interfaces

    Published at 9:11   Category Tech, VR Devices  

    I’m just returning from IPT/EGVE 2007, more on that later.

    There have been several interesting talks about BCI (Brain Computer Interfaces).

    >> Wheelchair control from thought

    The first one was from Prof. Dr. Gert Pfurtscheller from the Laboratory of Brain-Computer Interfaces, Graz University of Technology, Austria :
    Wheelchair control from thought: Simulation in an immersive virtual environment.

    Here are some notes I took during this session :

    The first thing to know is that those BCIs don’t read your thoughts. They won’t be able to know when you think ‘I want to go left’. They ‘simply’ discriminate between some thoughts, like thinking about moving your hands or feet by monitoring your motor cortex.
    But you need different strategies to match patterns, because not everyone will be able to ‘create’ the good thought that will be detected. For example for one subject, thinking about left hand (to go left) vs right hand (to go right), didn’t work well. They found out that asking the subject to think about moving his two feet vs right hand movement could lead to 100% discrimination.

    By examining only the feet motor zone in the brain, the patient successfully moved a wheelchair in a VE. You can see a video here, search for “EEG-based walking of a tetraplegic in virtual reality”

    Moreover, some completely paralyzed patients can only communicate through thougts, so BCIs could improve their lives.

    Yann Renard, who works with Anatole Lecuyer, has also explained to me that you can use another technique called the ‘steady state’ : you bring your attention to an oscillation, like a visual blink or a sound, and the activity of the auditory or visual cortex is synchronised with the frequency of the oscillation.

    More infos on BCI here : bci-info.org

    >> Intuition
    There was another talk by the Intuition Network (network of excellence focused on virtual reality) about Neural Interfaces, chaired by Roland Blach (Fraunhofer IAO, Stuttgart), with talks from Oliver Stefani (COAT Basel), Anatole Lecuyer (Inria) and Marc Erich Latoschik (University of Bielefeld).
    Neural interfaces could be used in VEs, not necessarily to have control over it (control the movements etc..), but more as input for adapting the VE to the user.

    A limiting factor is that these interfaces are not easy to setup, and the calibration procedure has to be potentially done for each different user.

    An interesting fact that was demonstrated is that it seems that sometimes, when you do a mistake, your unconscious mind notices it, but you still go with the conscious decision of doing the action. You read that right, the conscious and unconscious mind are fighting over what’s right and wrong !

    So they think that maybe one day the neural interfaces could be used to warn a user that he wants to perform an action but his unconscious mind doesn’t agree so maybe he should think about it.
    You could also use them to adapt the VE dynamically and in realtime to adapt to previous behaviours, desires, and support for the user’s cognitive and perceptual internal schemes. You could also create augmented cognition interfaces, that would adapt based on the cognitive workload, stress etc.

    >> OpenVibe

    Anatole Lecuyer presented the OpenVibe project.

    The goal of the OpenVibe project is to deliver a technological demonstrator and an OpenSource software to help developping BCI. As I don’t know the challenges of developping such applications, I can’t comment on the features of the software.

    Anatole said that BCI can be used to improve VR, but VR can also improve BCI.

    The results that I found the most interesting is that when using a BCI “helmet”, you only get electrical information from the surface of the brain. OpenVibe is able to recreate in realtime the3d electrical mental activity. This is useful for a more in depth information about the activity of brain zones. Moreover this allows to display in realtime and in 3D the activity of the brain. Maybe this realtime visualisation will allow us to have a better control on our brain activity and be able to modify it in realtime.

    Fri 13 Jul 2007

    Wii Fit

    Published at 13:08   Category Game, VR Devices  

    A new cool device for the Wii :

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    Fri 13 Jul 2007

    Next-Gen Games

    Published at 12:57   Category Game  

    I’ve just watched a batch of videos from the E3 2007 and I’ve seen beautiful games, like Assassin’s Creed, or KillZone 2 (this is all realtime):

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    You can (should!) download the high-res videos at GameSpot.

    I’ve also been playing Resident Evil 4 on the Wii and I love it. First I love to kill Zombies (I nearly finished The House of The Dead, Arcade style). And it’s better than to kill Rabbids. Then It’s beautiful, it’s fun and it’s neither too hard nor easy for me (Zelda need way too much focus for my gaming abilities).

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    The only thing that is a bit annoying is the control of the head. Looking up or down is less than practical, and of course you can’t shoot somewhere you’re not looking.

    I can’t help thinking that these games would be sooo much better with a HMD !! (oh and if you still have money, you can add a Virtusphere or a Treadmill ;)

    Damn future, come faster!

    Tue 10 Jul 2007

    Some haptics fun

    Published at 15:48   Category VR Devices  

    Lionel Dominjon is a haptics master; he can make a PHANToM dance !

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    Fri 6 Jul 2007

    EA STL

    Published at 9:28   Category C++, Game development  

    Electronic Arts has been writing their own set of C++ STL because the standard STL doesn’t fit gamedev constraints :

    Gaming platforms and game designs place requirements on game software which differ from requirements of other platforms. Most significantly, game software requires large amounts of memory but has a limited amount to work with. Gaming software is also faced with other limitations such as weaker processor caches, weaker CPUs, and non-default memory alignment requirements. A result of this is that game software needs to be careful with its use of memory and the CPU. The C++ standard library’s containers, iterators, and algorithms are potentially useful for a variety of game programming needs. However, weaknesses and omissions of the standard library prevent it from being ideal for high performance game software. Foremost among these weaknesses is the allocator model. An extended and partially redesigned replacement (EASTL) for the C++ standard library was implemented at Electronic Arts in order to resolve these weaknesses in a portable and consistent way. This paper describes game software development issues, perceived weaknesses of the current C++ standard, and the design of EASTL as a partial solution for these weaknesses.

    Wed 4 Jul 2007

    Comparing HMDs

    Published at 15:39   Category Product Review, VR Displays  

    Marc Bernatchez, from VResources, has an interesting article about comparing HMDs. He compares angular resolution, field of view, stereo overlapping, and the relevance of all these factors when compared to human visual abilities.

    For example, here’s the summary of the angular resolution analysis :