Escape From Meadwyn IV is a project in collaboration with WPI and was our entry for the IEEE 3DUI 2012 competition. Our entry reached the final round of competition and won the second place award of the contest. As part of the submission, a video is available below to cover some details of our mixed reality setup.

The goal of the contest is to inspire innovative virtual reality or augmented reality systems which support collaborative navigation in virtual environments. One user acts as the “Hero” and is immersed in the virtual space from a first person perspective. The Hero collaborates with another user who possesses a “God view”/over head view of the virtual world. However, they are not allowed to talk or text each other.

Our solution was a mixed reality system which combined an immersive VR system and a tablet-based AR interface. The Hero wears a head-mounted display (HMD) and uses the VR Surfboard interface to fly around a virtual space. The God holds a mobile tablet in his hand, and looks at the same virtual world from an exocentric point of view using a mobile AR paradigm (driven by Vuforia SDK). To enhance mutual awareness, the God user can see the Hero’s virtual avatar apart from his exocentric view. As the two users were not allowed to communicate through verbal or textual messages, we allowed the God user to put down beacons in the virtual space to guide the Hero to discover and collect targets. A preliminary user study was conducted with four pairs of subjects, and results indicated some benefits of using the beacons as a collaboration tool. The paper can be downloaded here.

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