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Stringwalker enables realistic walking in Virtual worlds

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May 1, 2007

May 2, 2007 Though Virtual Reality (VR) is moving quickly towards realism on many fronts, one of the major problems in creating a realistic immersive experience is that of walking. If people walk around with a VR headset on, they will eventually bump into something hard and unforgiving – so researchers across the world are questing for a suitable device which offers proprioceptive feedback for VR walking. The human brain seems happy to suspend disbelief and accept many crude kludges in order to roleplay along with a VR event, but the missing factor has been the ability to give the body the same sort of corresponding feedback as the brain. You can’t simulate true human movement with any authenticity without the exertion normally accompanying it. We’ve previously written up two ingenious attempts to enable VR users to maintain their position while walking in virtual environments in the form of the commercially-available Virtusphere and a set of powered shoes being developed at the University of Tsukuba in Japan. Now there’s another clever solution being developed at the same university – the Stringwalker. String Walker uses eight strings actuated by motor-pulley mechanisms mounted on a turntable.

The Stringwalker is the work of Hiroo Iwata from the University of Tsukuba and will be demonstrated for the first time outside Japan at the upcoming 34th International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, 5-9 August 2007 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California, USA.

SIGGRAPH 2007 Emerging Technologies is the most important event of its type each year, being the place to demonstrate creative, innovative technologies and applications in many fields, including displays, robotics, input devices, interaction techniques, computer vision, sensors, audio, speech, biometrics, wearable computing, information, data and scientific visualization, bio-technology, graphics, collaborative environments, and design.

SIGGRAPH 2007 Emerging Technologies received 75 submissions from six countries including France, Hungary, Japan, Korea, and Sweden. Only the most technically proficient and thought-provoking installations were selected by an elite group of industry experts. Of the 23 accepted pieces more than seven feature display technologies and five feature haptic technologies for interaction with attendees. In addition, there will be at least eight additional curated technologies.

"The SIGGRAPH 2007 Emerging Technologies program provides a unique look into the future capabilities of computer animation technologies in very practical, everyday environments," stated John Sibert, Emerging Technologies Co-Chair from The George Washington University. "This year's selection of technologies explores how advance computer technology significantly impacts human interaction."

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About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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