Otronicon 2009: Experiemental Research

Posted by Eric on Saturday, January 17th, 2009 in Otronicon 2009
Otronicon - Experimental Research

An area of the convention is dedicated specifically to field research for medical and...(military?) applications. The use of interactive media (I guess for lack of a better term from the developers) has become more popular in the recent years. Military sims and medical hand-eye coordination have been some of the key players. Here’s what some folks from UCF have on display:

Ballista MR

The first of the lineup was sorta like a bean-bag cannon, only...not. Basically, you put on this headset with a stereo display for virtual vision. It’s a pretty cool method of immersion that games today still haven’t reached (unless you play in the darkest of dark). Inside the display, you see a virtual environment, even though you’re standing in a real one. The antennae on the headset are motion trackers, where infrared cameras with infrared LEDs attached watch the reflection on the motion trackers to move the virtual environment according to your head. An interesting effect, but one that could be much easier achieved through accelerometers like in the Wii Remote. You use the shotgun to pump spheres through the holes in the red slotted board up ahead for points. Probably a good setup for a HUD in a mech or some type of exoskeletal body suit.

Space Gates

This demo was actually pretty cool. With wand in hand you navigate a rocket ship through a number of "gates" by maneuvering in real space in front of an infrared camera. What’s cool about this is that once you get the hang of the control scheme you can learn the gates’ positions in real space and move toward them imagining the gate is actually there. Since the camera is tracking the movement of the wand, the rocket ship follows and you travel through the gate. Applications like this are used for physical rehabilitation of injured patients. The game literally has you walking and swinging to different spots in physical space to make the rocket go through the gates.

This game would have been a perfect application for the headset from the previous demo. By wearing the headset and allowing the cameras to track your movements via the headset antennae you could be fully immersed in a virtual world and moving around in it in real time. Think of it as the early stages of a hologram. Of course, this would require a controlled environment. I’m sure walking into walls, running off balconies, or bumping into dangerous objects, like a Yeti, wouldn’t be too much fun.

Leap’n Leukocytes

In this medical application you influence a white blood cell’s direction swimming through a vein and collecting bacteria using a Wii Remote. Pointing at different areas of the screen navigate the WBC in that direction. When you’re full (you can collect 5 at a time), shaking the remote eliminates the bacteria and you start the process again. Nothing too special about this app; there are already way too many Wii games on the market using the techniques applied here. But the interface is definitely intriguing. It gets people thinking about the use of games in the medical field.

I Forgot

This demo was kinda like a homebrew version of the arcade game, Beach Head. It uses a monitor that tilts and pans on a tripod while infrared cameras on the wall ahead track motion trackers mounted on the monitor. The point of the game is to exterminate flies that come into view with a laser activated by a button mounted on the monitor. As you tilt and pan the monitor, the flies position moves relative to it; so moving the monitor left moves everything, including the fly, right. A pretty cool concept, though I think it would have worked better if the cameras and motion trackers were reversed. The cameras would sense much more movement and allow for more precise positioning.

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