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VE Input Devices. Doug Bowman Virginia Tech. Goals and Motivation. Provide practical introduction to the input devices used in VEs Examine common and state of the art input devices look for general trends spark creativity Advantages and disadvantages

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Ve input devices

VE Input Devices

Doug Bowman

Virginia Tech

Goals and motivation

Goals and Motivation

  • Provide practical introduction to the input devices used in VEs

  • Examine common and state of the art input devices

    • look for general trends

    • spark creativity

  • Advantages and disadvantages

  • Discuss how different input devices affect interface design

Input devices

Input devices

  • Hardware that allows the user to communicate with the system

  • Input device vs. interaction technique

  • Single device can implement many ITs

Human computer interface


Human-computer interface

User interface software








Human ve interface

Human-VE interface

Env. model


Simulation loop:


-check for events

-respond to events

-iterate simulation

-get new tracker data

Tracking system



Input device characteristics

Input device characteristics

  • Degrees of Freedom (DOFs) & DOF composition (integral vs. separable)

  • Range of reported values: discrete/continuous/hybrid

  • User action required: active/passive/hybrid

  • Intended use: locator, valuator, choice, …

  • Frame of reference: relative vs. absolute

  • Properties sensed: position, motion, force, …

Practical classification system

Practical classification system

  • Desktop devices

    • Keyboards, 2D mice and trackballs, pen-based tables, joysticks, 6DOF devices for the desktop

  • Tracking devices

  • 3D mice

  • Special-purpose devices

  • Direct human input

Desktop devices keyboards

Desktop devices: keyboards

  • Chord keyboards1

  • Arm-mounted keyboards2

  • “Soft” keyboards (logical devices)

Desktop devices 6 dof devices

Desktop devices: 6-DOF devices

  • 6 DOFs without tracking

  • Often isometric

  • Exs: Fig. 4.4 SpaceBall 5000, SpaceMouse Plus, SpaceOrb

Motion tracking

Motion Tracking

  • Critical characteristics

    • Range, latency, jitter (noise or instability), and accuracy

  • Different motion trackers

    • Magnetic

    • Mechanical

    • Acoustic

    • Inertial

    • Optical

    • Hybrid

Electromagnetic trackers

Electromagnetic trackers

  • Exs: Polhemus Fastrak, Ascension Flock of Birds

  • Most common

    • Used with conventional monitors (for fishtank VR) Small workbench displays

  • Transmitter

  • Receiver(s)

  • Noisy

  • Affected by metal objects -> distort the magnetic field

Inertial trackers

Inertial trackers

  • Exs: Intersense IS-300, Intertrax2

  • Less noise, lag

  • Only 3 DOFs (orientation)

Optical vision based trackers

Exs: Vicon, HiBall, ARToolkit



can capture a large volume

allow for untethered tracking


may require light emitting diodes(LEDs)

image processing techniques

occlusion problem

Optical/vision-based trackers

Hybrid tracking

Hybrid tracking

  • Ex: IS-600 / 900

  • inertial (orient.)

  • acoustic (pos.)

  • additional complexity, cost

Tracking devices eye tracking

Tracking devices: eye tracking

Tracking devices bend sensing gloves

Tracking devices: bend-sensing gloves

  • CyberGlove7, 5DT

  • Reports hand posture

  • Gesture:

    • single posture

    • series of postures

    • posture(s) + location or motion

Tracking devices pinch gloves

Tracking devices: pinch gloves

  • Conductive cloth at fingertips

  • Any gesture of 2 to 10 fingers, plus combinations of gestures

  • > 115,000 gestures

Case study pinch gloves

Case study: Pinch Gloves

  • Pinch gloves are designed to be a combination device (add a position tracker)

  • Very little has been done with Pinch Gloves in VEs - usually 1 or 2 gestures for:

    • Object selection

    • Tool selection

    • Travel

Characteristics of pinch gloves

Characteristics of Pinch Gloves

  • Relatively low cost

  • Very light

  • User’s hand becomes the device

  • User’s hand posture can change

  • Allow two-handed interaction

  • Huge number of possible gestures

Characteristics of pinch gloves ii

Characteristics of Pinch Gloves II

  • Much more reliable than data gloves

  • Support eyes-off input

  • Can diminish “Heisenberg effect”

  • Support context-sensitive gesture interpretation

Pinch gloves in smartscene 13

Pinch Gloves in SmartScene13

  • Lots of two-handed gestures

    • Scale world

    • Rotate world

    • Travel by “grabbing the air”

  • Menu selection

Pinch gloves for menus

Pinch Gloves for menus

  • TULIP system14

  • ND hand selects menu, D hand selects item within menu

  • Limited to comfortable gestures

  • Visual feedback on virtual hands

Pinch gloves for text input

Pinch Gloves for text input

  • Pinch Keyboard14

  • Emulate QWERTY

  • Pinch finger to thumb to type letter under that finger

  • Move/rotate hands to change active letters

  • Visual feedback

3d mice

3D mice

  • Ring Mouse

  • Fly Mouse

  • Wand

  • Cubic Mouse

  • Dragonfly

Special purpose devices using conductive cloth

Special-purpose devices: using conductive cloth

  • Virtual toolbelt

    • Used to select virtual tools

    • Good use of proprioceptive cues

  • Interaction slippers3

    • Step on displayed options

    • Click heels to “go home”

Special purpose devices painting table 4

Special-purpose devices: Painting Table4

Special purpose devices shapetape 11

Special-purpose devices: ShapeTape11

Human input speech

Human input: speech

  • Frees hands

  • Allows multimodal input

  • No special hardware

  • Specialized software

  • Issues: recognition, ambient noise, training, false positives, …

Human input bioelectric control

Human input: Bioelectric Control

Human input body sensing devices

Human input: Body Sensing Devices

More human input

More human input

  • Breathing device - OSMOSE

  • Brain-body actuated control

    • muscle movements

    • thoughts!

Locomotion devices


Stationary cycles

VMC / magic carpet

Walking/flying simulations (use trackers)

Locomotion devices



  • First Locomotion Device For U.S. Army (1994)

  • Proof-of-concept demonstration

  • Developed in six weeks

  • Difficult to change direction of travel

  • Small motions such as side-stepping are impossible



  • Developed in 1995

  • Based on a standard treadmill with the user being monitored and constrained by mechanical attachment to the user’s waist

  • User actually walks or jogs instead of pedaling

  • Physical movement is constrained to one direction

Individual soldier mobility simulator biport

Individual Soldier Mobility Simulator (Biport)

  • Most sophisticated locomotion device

  • Designed for the conduct of locomotion studies

  • Hydraulic-based locomotion driven w/ force sensors at the feet

  • Safeguards limited responsiveness

  • Too awkward to operate

Omni directional treadmill 15 16

Omni-Directional Treadmill15,16

  • Most recently developed locomotion device for U.S. Army

  • Revolutionary device that enables bipedal locomotion in any direction of travel

  • Consists of two perpendicular treadmills

  • Two fundamental types of movement

    • User initiated movement

    • System initiated movement

Torus treadmill

Torus treadmill

Odt video

ODT video

Virtual motion controller 17

Virtual Motion Controller17

  • Weight sensors in platform sense user’s position over platform

  • Step in direction to move that direction

  • Step further to go faster

Walking in place 18 19

Walking in place18,19

  • Analyze tracker information from head, body, feet

  • Neural network (Slater)

  • GAITER project (Templeman)

  • Shown to be better than purely virtual movement, but worse than real walking20

Classification of locomotion devices techniques

Classification of locomotion devices/techniques

Input and output with a single device

Input and output with a single device

  • Classic example - touch screen

  • LCD tablets or PDAs with pen-based input

  • Phantom haptic device

  • FEELEX haptic device21

Pda as ideal ve device 22

PDA as ideal VE device?22

  • Offers both input and output

  • Has on-board memory

  • Wireless communication

  • Portable, light, robust

  • Allows text / number input

  • Can be tracked to allow spatial input



  • When choosing a device, consider:

    • Cost

    • Generality

    • DOFs

    • Ergonomics / human factors

    • Typical scenarios of use

    • Output devices

    • Interaction techniques



  • Joe LaViola, Brown University, for slides and discussions

  • Ron Spencer, presentation on locomotion devices used by the Army



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References 2

References (2)

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References 3

References (3)

  • [21] Iwata, H., Yano, H., Nakaizumi, F., & Kawamura, R. (2001). Project FEELEX: adding haptic surface to graphics. Proceedings of ACM SIGGRAPH, Los Angeles, 469-476.

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