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CS 638-1: Projects in Virtual Reality (Spring 2011)

The webpage for this class is at http://graphics.cs.wisc.edu/WP/virtualreality11/

Images of Virtual Reality Technologies in Action. (Photo Credit: Erik Jepsen/UCSD Calit2)

Kevin Ponto
Michael Gleicher
Tuesday/Thursday 11:00 am – 12:15pm
Intended Audience
Students who are interested in exploring Virtual Reality, specially the working with the CAVE environment.
This class is appropriate for Computer Science students, with programming experience in graphics (ie CS 559), or Art and Design oriented students, with experience in CAD, 3D modeling, or game art design.  Please contact Kevin Ponto or Michael Gleicher if you have any questions.
The term Virtual Reality is generally used to describe an immersive interface between humans and computers.  Often times, this is accomplished by surrounding the user with interactive graphics in order to give them the sense of being in the simulated world.  This technology has a variety of applications in fields of design, medicine, defense, and entertainment (to name a few) and has been shown to be exceedingly valuable for training purposes, as users can experience a plethora of virtual scenarios without the dangers found in physical environments.  The final goal of this technology is to produce something like the Holodeck from Star Trek.
One approach to creating these type of immersive virtual environments comes in the form of a Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE) (and yes…the acronym CAVE has the word Cave in it).   CAVE systems use stereo projections on the walls of a room to give users a full 3D 360 degree viewpoint into a simulated environment (a video of a 4 sided CAVE can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-IWYU8WRsI).  The new Wisconsin Institute of Discovery (WID) is currently in the process of building a CAVE system, which includes projections on all six sides (ceiling, floors and all four sides), and the possibility of enabling multiple users.  Students taking this class will have hands-on access to this system for class projects.
The course objectives are to:

  • Promote the understanding of VR technology, including understanding potential benefits and limits.
  • Develop and evaluate technologies in virtual environments.
  • Work as a small team to build a VR application.  As these teams may be interdisciplinary, students will need to combine technical skills with imagination, creativity, and innovative ideas.
This course will be organized into two separate meetings per week.  One session will be a held as a lecture, where discussions will focus on the history, theory, implementations, research,  and future direction of VR technologies.  This session will require weekly readings and thoughtful discussion.
The second session will be held to as an open lab to work on projects, discuss and critique ideas between groups, and test projects in the CAVE.  Two startup projects will be done in the first 6 weeks in order to get students acclimated to the CAVE technology.  After this, groups of 3-4 will be formed which will produce a final project based ideas generated from in class discussions.  Groups will be required to submit deliverables every 2 weeks to show progress on their project.  Final projects will be accompanied by a short paper, presenting the project in context with the related work in the field.

Proposed Schedule

Week 1: Introduction to Virtual Reality
Week 2: History and Theory of Virtual Reality
Week 3: 3D Display Technology
Week 4: Tracking
Week 5: Interfaces for Virtual Reality
Week 6: Augmented Reality
Week 7: Applications of Virtual Reality Technology
Week 8: Virtual Reality Challenges
Week 9: Future Direction of Virtual Reality
Week 10-15: Projects Discussion