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Science Meets Fiction workshop series opener draws capacity crowd

The University of Central Florida’s newest workshop series is an ongoing examination of the far future sparked by the imagination of artists scientists from around the world. 

The series' first workshop, Beyond VR: Simulating Identities, brought future-thinkers and visionaries to IST's conference rooms for a Friday evening reception and demonstration showcase followed the next day by an all-day workshop. the workshop was sponsored by the US Army PEOSTRI and the Joint Advanced Distributed Learning Co-laboratory.

The workshop examined the future of simulation and virtual technology and its impact on our self-perception. Attendees speculated on the advances in and possibilities of provoking intense identification with artificial identities and social environments. This workshop was designed to create thought provoking and diverse visions of a possible future when boundaries melt between the real and synthetic world.

This workshop ventured into novel approaches for tapping creative minds and provoking participation from industry leaders to produce a catalytic on-line document intended to inspire the next great scientific discovery or work of fiction in synthetic humanity.

The Friday evening reception was hosted by the National Center for Simulation (www.simulationinformation.com) and  sponsored by the Metro Orlando Film and Entertainment Commission. Cutting edge, virtual and real world boundary melting media technology was showcased with multi-sensory Mixed Reality under development by the Media Convergence Laboratory (www.mcl.ucf.edu). 

The research includes Time Portal, a prototype of an experiential movie trailer that allows you to experience an action scene of a movie as it immerses you in a theme-park-style video game; MS ISLE, a multi-modal, immersive game chamber for group interaction; MR MOUT a merging of live and virtual simulation for Military Operation in Urban Terrain; and other on-going research in experiential and immersive media.  At the convergence of the nation’s leading military research in simulation-based training and the world’s center for experience-based entertainment, Orlando is rapidly becoming the world’s center for experiential media.

Experimental Music was provided by the Orlando instrumental trio, Harbinger (http://www.lonekimono.org/).

Christopher Stapleton

Media Convergence Lab director
Christopher Stapleton coordinated the
Beyond VR workshop.

More about the Media Convergence Lab

More about the Science Meets Fiction series


Autonomous robot investigators will leave more than footprints behind

A project underway in IST's labs aims to create robot vehicles that can venture onto unknown terrain, send back survey results and leave behind remote sensors that will continue to monitor the area.

The team is exploring creative ways to integrate GPS, Mote sensors (a form of miniaturized remote sensing device), a continuous localization algorithm and ad-hoc networking on a mobile robot platform.

The platform would have both indoor and outdoor capabilities. A variety of sensors, including GPS receivers, laser range finder, gyros and wireless video, would collect data and transmit the results to a remote user using a new Cognitive Packet Network architecture.

Cognitive packets route themselves and learn to avoid congestion and being lost or destroyed. The CPN protocol is unique in the sense that it departs from traditional packet switching networks that rely on the nodes for routing packets.

Dr. Guy Schiavone, Assistant Professor at IST and the Department of Computer Engineering, is lead researcher on the project.

Autonomous robot test vehicle

One of the test platforms for IST's
autonomous robot research carries
a video camera, laser rangefinder and
GPS sensors.

Haptic applications for multi-modal environments research

Current virtual simulations primarily immerse the participant visually, engaging other senses in a limited fashion. Fully realistic simulations require participants to feel the virtual environment as well as see and hear it.

IST researches for some time have worked on the challenge of adding the sense of touch to immersive virtual simulations. One of the solutions, a prototype "Virtual Environment Stimulus Tool" (VEST), provides the user a sense of being touched or wounded.

The prototype VEST, which, incidentally, is a sleeveless drysuit, uses 32 cellphone vibrators installed in eight  zones of four vibrators each.

Varying the vibration duration time yields an impressive range of sensations. Users have remarked that the VEST-provided feedback was a significant enhancement to the VR environment.

A force feedback glove, the CyberGrasp, also has been incorporated into the virtual environment test scenario. The CyberGrasp is a haptic device used to provide realistic manipulation of virtual objects. Both an input device, providing 22 degrees of freedom covering most of the joints of the hand, and a force feedback device, providing up to 12 Newtons of resistance to each finger and the thumb.

The Haptic Applications for Multi-Modal Environments Research (HAMMER) lab is planning in the near future to integrate the VEST and CyberGrasp with the Media Convergence Lab's Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) simulation.



The CyberGrasp force feedback glove
provides realistic manipulation of virtual objects.

IST researcher Don Washburn is point of contact on this project.

Phone: 407-882-1433
E-mail: dwashbur@ist.ucf.edu



updated: 12/21/2004

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