Advances in Robotics and Virtual Reality

Volume 26 of the series Intelligent Systems Reference Library pp 251-273

Virtual Reality as a Surrogate Sensory Environment

  • Theodore W. HallAffiliated withUniversity of Michigan
  • , Mojtaba NavvabAffiliated withUniversity of Michigan
  • , Eric MaslowskiAffiliated withUniversity of Michigan
  • , Sean PettyAffiliated withUniversity of Michigan

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This chapter examines certain aspects of virtual reality systems that contribute to their utility as surrogate sensory environments. These systems aim to provide users with sensory stimuli that simulate other worlds. The fidelity of the simulation depends on the input data, the software, the display hardware, and the physical environment that houses it all. Robust highfidelity general-purpose simulation requires a collaborative effort of modelers, artists, programmers, and system administrators. Such collaboration depends on standards for modeling and data representation, but these standards lag behind the leading-edge capabilities of processors and algorithms. We illustrate this through a review of the evolution of a few of the leading standards and case studies of projects that adhered to them to a greater or lesser extent. Multi-modal simulation often requires multiple representations of elements to accommodate the various algorithms that apply to each mode – for example, alternative geometries for visualization, auralization, and collision detection. Tools and algorithms to assist in the extraction of these representations from common base data will expand the pool of high-quality multi-modal simulations. In the final analysis, the output stimuli depend on aspects of the display hardware and its physical setting that might not be adequately accounted for by idealistic algorithms. It is important to measure these actual stimuli in order to validate and fine-tune the simulation system.