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  • Sat 29 Nov 2008

    AR on buildings

    Published at 11:25   Category Augmented Reality  

    Pretty cool demo reel of french companies EasyWeb and NeoProj :

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    Tue 25 Nov 2008

    Medecine meets VR – Interview of Dr. Rizzo

    Published at 15:40   Category VR Applications  

    The “Medecine meets VR” conference, 17th edition, will be held in California on Januray 19-22.

    Their blog publishes an interview of Dr Albert “Skip” Rizzo who gave a keynote at Laval Virtual 2008.

    Here are some bits ranging from VR exposure therapies to whether cyberspace addiction is bad or not :

     Albert “Skip” Rizzo received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the State University of New York at Binghamton. He is a Research Scientist at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies and conducts research on the design, development and evaluation of Virtual Reality systems targeting the areas of clinical assessment, treatment and rehabilitation.

    “(…) [Our] projects span R&D efforts that apply Virtual Reality to clinical areas including: PTSD exposure therapy, neurocognitive assessment, game-based motor rehabilitation and our emerging work with virtual human patients for clinical training. (…)

    This presentation [at the MMVR conference] will focus on our development of an inexpensive and easy to deploy webcam-based tracking system that is now good enough to support high-fidelity capture of natural motor movement for interaction within VR game-based physical therapy worlds. (…)

    For PTSD exposure therapy, the outcome data from our group and from what I can glean from the VRMC lab, are very encouraging.  (…) From this, it appears that the technology is not the limitation anymore. VR simulations are “real enough” to provide the necessary fear/anxiety arousal needed to promote the therapeutic process of habituation. To be quite honest, it doesn’t take much for a patient with PTSD to get engaged in the Virtual Iraq simulation—their disorder essentially “primes” them to react to the virtual content in ways that folks who have never been exposed to such combat-related trauma, don’t fully apprehend. The real bottleneck is in the training of clinicians on how to properly administer VR exposure therapy in a safe and professional manner. Current VR exposure systems are simply very powerful tools that extend the skills of a well-trained clinician. The challenge is to find enough of those well-trained clinicians to provide informed care for the number of folks coming back from Iraq/Afghanistan with psychosocial difficulties!

    (…) [Our] design of the clinician’s interface—a control panel that allows the clinician, in real time, to systematically monitor what the patient experiences in the simulation and to add or take away provocative stimulus events (sounds, sights, scents and vibration) as is required for effecting the anxiety modulation necessary to achieve the therapeutic effect of habituation when conducting exposure therapy. For example, the delivery of scent into the simulation is controlled via the clinician’s interface. We use an Enviroscent system with chambers for 8 different scent vials (gunpowder, diesel, burning rubber, body odor, etc.) through which compressed air is pumped to carry the smell temporarily into the users simulation space.

    rizzo2.jpg rizzo3.jpg

    > What qualities do you see as most important for a realistic/convincing/successful simulation?

    (…) Multisensory input, well-designed interface, responsive tracking, flexible ability to adjust software parameters, etc. Also, knowing what type of display format best addresses the clinical target is a key issue. There are some app. areas where full immersion is less relevant, like in many of the motor rehab applications where a nice wide FOV stereo screen works great. However, for all the criticisms that HMDs have been subjected to over the years, I believe they still are the best approach for some of the psychological applications where full immersion is important—and with some of the more recent systems that are available with built-in 3DOF tracking (eMagin, Vusix), they are portable, low cost and can allow a clinician to “do” VR easily in an office setting.

    (…) the Novint Falcon force feedback system now offers a new set of options for game-based rehabilitation at a cost of less than an IPOD! We have now developed bimanual coordination games for stroke patients by yoking two of these devices together on a single laptop and some of that work will be presented at MMVR this year.

    (…) Even more contentious is the debate as to whether children and impressionable adults will display dysfunctional behaviors due to extensive exposure or experiential play in cyberspace! (…) This literature has produced a lot of small sample size, albeit provocative, one-off studies (just skim an issue of CyberPsychology and Behavior) and a few large scale studies with contradictory results and no shortage of heated debate. This is consistent with the history of similar concerns that have always been raised whenever a new media form is embraced by the masses (film, comic books, TV, video games, Facebook, 2nd Life) or with the rapid adoption of everyday technology-based productivity/communication devices (from calculators to PDA’s to IPhones). (…) somehow the use of pocket calculators never actually produced a generation of children unable to do simple addition!

    (…) While there will always be a percentage of the population that will get consumed in any type of media use to a degree that could be consensually agreed upon to be unhealthy, that assessment is still a value judgment. Whether it is a good or a bad thing that I have learned more about the history of the world from watching the History Channel, than from years sitting in history classes in school is a value judgment. Determining whether an isolated, insecure person with poor social skills who finds some connection with other people in cyberspace is further withdrawing from the “real” world or is learning to interact with others in what they perceive to be a safe environment, requires a value judgment. Consequently, no fully satisfying, comprehensive or generally agreed upon answers currently exist for these questions, yet.

    (…) I don’t believe that you create a healthy society by limiting one’s choice of media options. Perhaps working to create a healthy society in other domains (better education opportunities, improved healthcare, electing political role-models that are honest and caring), would be a better place to focus ones energies than to blame cyberspace or an individual’s personal taste in media for the ills of the world!

    That’s a great way of seeing things, I’m happy Dr Rizzo is taking such positions. I myself don’t know where I would be now if I hadn’t spend so much time with computers during my childhood or if my parents had forbidden me to do so fearing that I’d become a zombie.

    But still, you have to watch after your kids’ activity in Cyberspace since they don’t know how to regulate it themselves.

    He also confirms what I’ve been saying for quite some time now,  we have good enough hardware but we don’t make the most of it!

    If nobody is doing it I’ll have to do it myself ..

    Fri 21 Nov 2008

    Chicken stabilization

    Published at 0:13   Category Tech  

    Saw that on Johnny Lee’s blog. Sorry but just… LOOL

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    Thu 20 Nov 2008

    Old School VR – Tomytronics 3D

    Published at 16:26   Category Game, VR Applications, VR Displays  

    Back in 1980, long before Nintendo’s Virtual Boy (1995) and Sega’s VR Console (1994), Tomy released several stereoscopic games, built-in in a spaceship-shaped handheld “console”.

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    As you can see, they have the same old LCD screens with only a few determined positions as good ol’ donkey kong, except it’s stereoscopic!

    game-and-watch_donkey-kong.jpg

    You can buy some here and on eBay.

    Tue 18 Nov 2008

    Mirror’s Edge – Gaming with proprioception

    Published at 12:44   Category Game, VR Applications  

    I should really make a list of all the games that would be terrific to play in Immersive VR..

    Along with Assassin’s Creed vastness and beautiful graphics, Gears of War 2 with its violence and majestic landscapes, the latest game by the swedish editor Dice, Mirror’s Edge, would be a great way to feel freedom and wind on your face as you jump buildings :

    This Wired review explains why the game feels so immersive:

    It doesn’t do justice to call the action in Mirror’s Edge “intense”: It quivers, like a hummingbird, and your first-person view is constantly whipsawing like a paranoid cameraman hunting for the best shot. (…) What makes Mirror’s Edge so different? Sure, the action is swoopy and vertiginous, just as it is in many other games. (…)  Why does this game get its hooks into my brain so effectively? Why does it feel so much more visceral?

    I think it’s because Mirror’s Edge is the first game to hack your proprioception.

    That’s a fancy word for your body’s sense of its own physicality — its “map” of itself. Proprioception is how you know where your various body parts are — and what they’re doing — even when you’re not looking at them. It’s why you can pass a baseball from one hand to another behind your back; it’s how you can climb stairs without looking down at your feet.

    Most first-person shooters do not create any sense of proprioception. You may be looking out the eyes of your character, but you don’t have a good sense of the dimensions of the rest of your virtual body — the size and stride of your legs, the radius of your arms. At most, you can see your arms carrying your rifle out in front of you. But otherwise, the designers treat your body as if it were just a big, refrigerator-size box.(…)

    When you run, you see your hands pumping up and down in front of you. When you jump, your feet briefly jut up into eyeshot — precisely as they do when you’re vaulting over a hurdle in real life. And when you tuck down into a somersault, you’re looking at your thighs as the world spins around you. (…)

    The upshot is that these small, subtle visual cues have one big and potent side effect: They trigger your sense of proprioception. It’s why you feel so much more “inside” the avatar here than in any other first-person game. And it explains, I think, why Mirror’s Edge is so curiously likely to produce motion sickness. The game is not merely graphically realistic; it’s neurologically realistic [Cb: I'd like to have a neurologists opinion on that!].  (…)

    It’s an interesting lesson of game physics: When you feel like you’re truly inside your character, speed suddenly means something.

    The opposite is also true. Without a sense of physicality, speed feels lifeless. In Halo, you’re playing as the cyborgically enhanced Master Chief, so your top speed at an open run is — according to Halo nerd canon — 30 mph or something. But it doesn’t feel very fast at all, because your avatar doesn’t appear to be actually exerting himself.(…)

    The combat in Mirror’s Edge felt more believable than doing battle in Halo, too. When the cops were shooting bullets at me and I was frantically racing to escape, I kept thinking: “Damn, I’m going so fast I might just escape!” In most first-person games, I usually wonder the opposite: How are these guys not hitting me? So the brilliant physicality of Mirror’s Edge isn’t just a boon to the game’s physics. It also makes the narrative and drama more plausible.

    So you feel like you’re the character, this means more presence, so more immersion.  I have to talk to them.. Sweden is not so far from Paris and I guess I’d take less time to go to Stockholm than to go to Velizy =)

    Fri 14 Nov 2008

    AR for perve… uh.. geeks!

    Published at 22:52   Category Augmented Reality  

    We have just moved to our brand new, shiny, far far away new buildings in Velizy.

    Going from 15mins of bike to 2h30 of public transportation daily doesn’t really make me happy (to stay polite).

    Anyway, today we met Matthew McGinity from iCinema, and he’s been showing us what they’re doing there; it’s really impressive and technically challenging! And it’s always nice to meet people that you’ve known only through mails. And Australia seems to have much more sun than Velizy…

    And no they’re not doing what you’ll see below..

    To come back to the topic that I’m sure will raise your interest (you.. geek!), here’s at last an “ARotic” application, maybe the first AR projet that will make money =)

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    Fri 7 Nov 2008

    How real should robots and avatars be ?

    Published at 11:04   Category Virtual Reality  

    A really nice video explaining the “you-have-to-know” concept of the “Uncanny Valley” first coined by Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori in the 1970′s : If a robot or an avatar looks too realistic but is not perfect, users will be repulsed. If they are less realistic, users will be much more likely to adopt them.

    A real problem anyone dealing with virtual humans should be aware of.

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    And  one last thought for great author Michael Chrichton who died on tuesday..

    Mon 3 Nov 2008

    Immersive gaming by Torben Schou

    Published at 13:29   Category Game development, VR Applications  

    Last week, I saw Torben‘s poster at VRST about using multiple sensor bars to extend the range of the wiimote. And yesterday, as I was looking around to find out how to adapt Half-Life 2 in VR, I stumbled on his page with nice research on immersive gaming, using Source Engine mods with the wiimote and with face tracking with only a webcam :

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    I really feel that it’s becoming easier to get a nice VR setup at home. The minimum that we should have is head tracking and one hand tracking. From that point on, we only have to use the mod capabilites of games and play VR!

    Hum that’s the theory, practice is another thing, but let’s start trying!