27 December 2009

Real-Time Virtual Worlds

A new digital system developed at the University of Illinois, allows people in different locations to interact in real time in a shared virtual space. The tele-immersive environment captures, transmits, and displays three-dimensional movement in real time. Unlike the virtual reality people see in video games or in digitally animated films, these virtual environments record real-time actions. It’s a virtual environment that is the product of real-time imaging, not the result of programming 3D CAD models.

Nobody has to be supplied with equipment to enable imaging and 3-D reconstruction. The only thing you might have is some kind of controller, like a Wii controller, so you can change the view angle of the data you see. Clusters of visible and thermal spectrum digital cameras and large LCD displays surround a defined space. Information is extracted from the digital images, rendered in 3-D in a virtual space, and transmitted via the Internet to the separate geographic sites. Participants at each site can see their own digital clones and their counterparts at the other sites on the LCD screens and can move their bodies in respond to the images on the screen.

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