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Unformatted text preview: 10 September/October 2008 Published by the IEEE Computer Society 0272-1716/08/$25.00 2008 IEEE Graphically Speaking Editor: Miguel Encarnao Bringing VR and Spatial 3D Interaction to the Masses through Video Games Joseph J. LaViola Jr. University of Central Florida V irtual reality (VR) and 3D user interface (3D UI) research has been going on for more than 20 years, with limited success in being a part of peoples everyday lives. Dont get me wrong; VR and 3D UIs have been useful in areas such as simulation and training, scientifi c visualization, medicine, and psychological reha- bilitation. 1 But to say that VR and 3D UI research has signifi cantly affected mainstream society is undeniably false. Compared to other technologies such as the mouse and WIMP (windows, icons, menus, point and click) interfaces, VR and 3D UIs have had little impact. However, were seeing a change in the utility of VR and 3D UIs, with concepts from these fi elds emerg- ing on a large, mainstream scale. The video game industry, as it has done for real-time 3D computer graphics for the last 15 years, is bringing spatial 3D interaction into peoples living rooms through rather simple, yet effective technologies such as computer vision and motion sensing. Whats even more interesting is that the video game industry has tried many times before to bring VR technology to its customers and failed miserably. Devices such as the Nintendo U-Force and Sega 3D glasses are just two examples of such failures. The question then is why have recent innova- tions such as the Sony EyeToy and Nintendo Wii been so successful? Here, I look at a possible an- swer and discuss the research opportunities pre- sented by the latest commercial push for spatial 3D interaction in games. 3D UIs and video games What do I mean by 3D UIs in video games, anyway? In general, 3D UIs involve input devices and interac- tion techniques for effectively controlling highly dy- namic 3D computer-generated content, 2 and theres no exception when it comes to video games. A 3D video game world can use one of three basic approaches to interaction. The fi rst maps 2D in- put and button devices, such as the keyboard and mouse, joysticks, and game controllers, to game elements in the 3D world. This is basically the tra- ditional approach; its how people have been inter- acting with 3D (and 2D) video games since their inception many years ago. The second approach simulates the real world using replicas of existing devices or physical props. Common examples include steering wheels, light guns, and musical instruments (for example, the guitar in Guitar Hero). These devices dont neces- sarily provide 3D interaction in the game but do provide 3D input devices that enable more real- istic gameplay....
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- Spring '08