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Virtual Reality Interfaces

The way in which a human interfaces wth the Virtual reality (VR) environment is through a number of interfaces. These include:


Head Mounted Display [HMD]

The head-mounted display (HMD) was the first device used to immerse a user in a virtual experience.

The first HMD commercially available was the "EyePhone" system, released in 1989.

A typical HMD achieves a stereoscopic view of the virtual world by using an optimcal system to channel images through two miniature display screens to the eyes.

A motion tracker continuously measures the position and orientation of the user's head. The image generating computer uses this input to adjust the scene representation to the current view. This allows the user to move through a virtual environment and view it in 3D as one would in the real world.

To overcome the bulky, intrusive sensation of these early HMD's alternative concepts [BOOM and CAVE] have been developed to allow for immersive viewing of virtual environments.



The BOOM [Fakespace] is a head-coupled stereoscopic display device.

Screens and optical system, housed in a box, are attached to a multi-link arm. The user looks into the box through two holes, sees the virtual world, and can guide the box to any position within the operational volume of the device.

Head tracking is accomplished via sensors in the links of the arm that holds the box.

There are a wide range of BOOM models available, including 3D stereoscopic, 2D monoscopic and monocular versions. For BOOM HMD's



The CAVE [developed at the University of Illinois at Chicago] provides the illusion of immersion by projecting stereo images on the walls and floor of a room-sized cube.

Several persons wearing lightweight stereo glasses can enter and walk freely inside the CAVE.

A head tracking system continuously adjust the stereo projection to the current position of the leading viewer.


Data Gloves, Wands, Joysticks, Mouse

Data gloves, joysticks, and hand-held wands allow the user to navigate through a virtual environment and to interact with virtual objects.

ALSO SEE: Immersive Virtual Reality Environments

NEXT: Virtual Reality Research

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