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Research Papers: Design Education

Effectiveness of an Immersive Virtual Environment for Collaboration With Gesture Support Using Low-Cost Hardware

[+] Author and Article Information
Joshua Q. Coburn

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Brigham Young University,
Provo, UT 84602
e-mail: jqcoburn@byu.edu

John L. Salmon

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Brigham Young University,
Provo, UT 84602
e-mail: johnsalmon@byu.edu

Ian Freeman

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Brigham Young University,
Provo, UT 84602
e-mail: ifreeman@byu.edu

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Design Education Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL DESIGN. Manuscript received May 24, 2017; final manuscript received January 8, 2018; published online February 27, 2018. Assoc. Editor: Gul E. Okudan Kremer.

J. Mech. Des 140(4), 042001 (Feb 27, 2018) (9 pages) Paper No: MD-17-1366; doi: 10.1115/1.4039006 History: Received May 24, 2017; Revised January 08, 2018

Since the advent of modern computer-aided design software, engineers have been divorced from the highly collaborative environment previously enjoyed. Today's highly complex designs require modern software tools and the realities of a global economy often constrain engineers to remote collaboration. These conditions make it highly impractical to collaborate locally around physical models. Various approaches to creating new collaboration tools and software, which alleviate these issues, have been tried previously. However, past solutions either used expensive hardware, which is not widely available, or used standard two-dimensional (2D) monitors to share three-dimensional (3D) information. Recently, new low-cost virtual reality (VR) hardware has been introduced, which creates a highly immersive 3D experience at a tiny fraction of the cost of previous hardware. This work demonstrates an immersive collaborative environment built using a network of this hardware, which allows users to interact with gestures virtually and conducts a study to show its advantages over traditional video conferencing software.

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Figures

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Fig. 4

The pointing input gesture to draw free-form curves: (a) VR gesture and (b) physical gesture

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Fig. 5

The pinching input gesture to delete a free-form curve: (a) VR gesture and (b) physical gesture

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Fig. 6

The thumbs-up gesture to delete all free-form curves: (a) VR gesture and (b) physical gesture

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Fig. 8

The experimental setup used for the study. When using skype, participants would sit at the computers. When using the VE, participants would stand and walk around in the white areas. A curtain between the two computers was used to block the line of sight between participants.

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Fig. 7

Front, side, isometric, and top views of the paths used in the study

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Fig. 9

An example of a participant tracing the tutorial path in the VE

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Fig. 1

System architecture showing how multiple single-user HMDs can be linked through a client–server architecture to create a shared immersive environment

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Fig. 3

HTC Vive HMD with front mounted Leap Motion controller. Courtesy of the Leap Motion blog.

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Fig. 2

An example of a local user (hand on the right with arm) teaching a remote user (hand on the left without arm). Both users can see each other's hands and gestures improving the communication.

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Fig. 10

Example of a raw data set processed into final measurement points for the accuracy calculation. Front, side, isometric, and top views.

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Fig. 11

Frequency of responses of how suitable each environment was to communicating complex 3D data

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Fig. 12

Frequency response of how effective various gestures types were at conveying complex 3D information. Broken out by a participant's self-rating and rating of partner.

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Fig. 13

Frequency response of participants' environment preference to communicate complex 3D data

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