The impressive successes in low cost VR technologies (Oculus Rift, Virtuix Omni, Microsoft HoloLens/Illumiroom, movement detectors and sensor points Fitbit, etc) and the dramatic growth of many areas in computer vision (e.g. real-time monocular SLAM, 3D reconstruction, human activity recognition, etc) have offered an early glimpse into the fundamental changes that Virtual Reality (VR) can bring into the way humans participate in social activities, work places, learning, entertainment and other daily experiences. Further, these major advances fueled by the explosion of activity in the VR consumer market are raising visions of tremendous economic potential. Many financial analysts from Forbes and Goldman-Sachs estimate that this will become a multibillion-dollar industry (estimates are at 150 billion dollars) by 2020.
However, present day virtual reality systems require the use of specialized, and often cumbersome equipment for experiencing Virtual Environments (VE) (e.g. Head Mounted Devices (HMDs), active-vision or passive-vision glasses with tracking markers, etc). This is made even worse by poor human-VR system interaction technologies causing VR applications to have many serious concerns and shortcomings. These include (a) restrictive user interaction forced by the need to use additional interaction equipment (e.g. data gloves, leap motion, haptic devices, etc), and (b) failure to incorporate user performance information (e.g. gestures, actions, activities, eye gaze, voice, etc) in the interaction. These shortcomings have a serious detrimental effect on the user’s experience and unless addressed well and fast, will not enable realization of the societal and economic potential of VR technologies. Also, these restrictive interaction technologies are seriously disruptive in any creative activity making these applications difficult for artists to realize their full creative output. Accordingly, the research proposed here aspires to address the above concerns and if successful will bring a transformational change in interaction technologies relating to Virtual Reality, pushing the state-of-the-art.
Concordia University is a comprehensive, English-language research university in Montreal.
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