Computer Science Distinguished Lecture: Dr. Carolina Cruz-Neira

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Date/Time:Thursday, 10 Mar 2011 at 3:40 pm
Location:Howe Hall, Alliant Energy Lee Liu Auditorium
Cost:Free
Phone:515-294-6516
Channel:Computer Science Department
Categories:Lectures
Actions:Download iCal/vCal | Email Reminder
Carolina Cruz-Neira is the W. Hansen Hall and Mary Officer Hall/BORSF Endowed Super Chair in Telecommunications in Computer Engineering, and chief scientist of the Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette. She will discuss integrating the ability to physically walk and run into a virtual environment, specifically in a CAVE-like virtual reality system.

This presentation presents my research team's experiences integrating the ability of physical walking and running into a virtual environment, specifically in a CAVE-like virtual reality system. The ability of physically walking and running is accomplished through the incorporation of an omnidirectional treadmill (ODT) system as the floor of the CAVE. The ODT enables walking in all directions that is, users are able to walk in circles if they so desire to explore the virtual space. Furthermore, the ODT supports walking and running speeds up to 6 miles per hour, providing a good range of exploring paces to users. An interesting feature of the ODT is that it has two modes of operation. In normal walking mode, the ODT responds to the user's motions, adapting itself to the speed and direction the user wants to go. The other mode, the treadmill can be controlled to deliver specific speeds and directions, in a sense forcing the users to walking in a specific pattern. This modality opens an even wider range of research opportunities. For example, work on using virtual environments for physical rehabilitation or elderly mobility. Or, research on training environments for emergency responders when the ground is unstable.

Although the ODT technology has been available for a while to the virtual reality community, it has been primarily installed in highly specialized military training facilities. Our group, in collaboration with the Human Research Engineering Directorate and the Army Research Laboratory, has installed an ODT at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Part of the project involves designing a CAVE structure and projection system suitable for the ODT, as well as extending VR Juggler to incorporate the ability to walk the virtual spaces. Even for those of us used to work in virtual environments, the ODT provides a new experience in which our body becomes the interactive device. Exploring virtual environments is a new adventure in which space, scale, and distance among the objects and environments are measured through our motion as it happens in the real world. The main research driver for this work is focused on improving training scenarios for our military forces, in particular those that require physical exertion. Furthermore, our work involves developing a collaborative infrastructure to interconnect our ODT with four other ODTs inside ARL to support group training. This talk with discuss our approach to design and build this system, both from a hardware and software perspective, the challenges that we faced and solved, as well as the lessons learned as we perform our research in this new system.

Dr. Carolina Cruz-Neira is the W. Hansen Hall and Mary Officer Hall/BORSF Endowed Super Chair in Telecommunications in Computer Engineering and the Chief Scientist of the Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise (LITE) at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She is also a member of the Board of the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Academy of Information Technologies. From 2006 until 2008, Dr. Cruz was the founding Executive Director of LITE, a State of Louisiana initiative to support economic development through the use of immersive technologies. Prior to being in Louisiana, Dr. Cruz was the Stanley Chair in Interdisciplinary Engineering and the Associate Director and co-founder of the Virtual Reality Applications Center at Iowa State University (ISU).