Do you feel in control of the body that you see? This is an important question in virtual reality (VR) as it highly impacts the user’s sensation of presence and embodiment of an avatar representation while immersed in a virtual environment. To better understand this aspect, we performed an experiment in the framework of the VR-Together project to assess the relative impact of different levels of body animation fidelity to presence.
In this experiment, the users are equipped with a motion capture suit and reflective markers to track their movements in real time with a Vicon optical motion capture system. They also wear Manus VR gloves for fingers tracking and an Oculus HMD. At each trial, the face (eye gaze and mouth), fingers and the avatar’s upper and lower bodies are manipulated with different degree of animation fidelity, such as no animation, procedural animation and motion capture. Each time, users have to execute a number of tasks (walk, grab an object, speak in front of a mirror) and to evaluate if they are in control of their body. Users start with the simplest setting and, according to the judged priority, improve features of the avatar animation until they are satisfied with the experience of control.
Using the order in which users improve the movement features, we can assert on the most valuable animation features to the users. With this experiment, we want to confront the relative importance of animation features with the costs of adoption (monetary and effort) to provide software and use guidelines for live 3D rigged character mesh animation based on affordable hardware. This outcome will be useful to better define what makes a compelling social VR experience.
3D In Motion (3DIM) – our experimental setup of capture, visualization and sonification of movements in real time – was presented at the Montreux Jazz Festival on the 12th of July 2014 during an one hour workshop. For this occasion, a special sound design was developed by Alain Renaud from MINTLab. A mapping of different artists’ audio tracks recordedduring their visitto the festivalwas performed. The tracks were generouslyprovided by theMontreuxJazzLab of EPFL.
Moreover, several improvements in the 3DIM application were achieved. For instance, an iPad App was implemented to easily switch between the sound design scenarios, a prompter was added to provide instructions to the user and an OSC connection between the sonification and graphical applications was programmed to control visual feedback from sound events.
Again, the feedback from the public was positive. We look forward to developing a first live performance using this system.
In collaboration with Alain Renaud from MINTLab, we gave on the 20th of April a workshop at Electron Festival in Geneva. At this occasion, we presented the 3D In Motion (3DIM) experimental setup of capture, visualization and sonification of movements in real time. About twenty people participated to the workshop, where they had the opportunity to test the system and to learn more about the underlying techniques.
It was the first time 3DIM was officially presented to the public and the feedback was positive. This gave us a good basis for further developing the system both in terms of visualization and musicality. The next demonstration will take place in June at the New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME) Conference in London.
Yesterday, we tested with Tobias Baumann, game designer and freelancer, the Oculus Rift with our Xsens MVN in Unity 3D. The goal was to virtually hit columns of cubes and balloons. Some simple applications to start with, but resulting in a nice full-body immersive VR experience. The first tests were convincing. We will definitely continue working on this topic with Tobias. Stay tuned!