Proposition of new metaphors and techniques for 3D interaction and navigation preserving immersion and facilitating collaboration between distant users

Abstract : Recent progress of the virtual reality technology gives the computer supported collaborative work a potential and flexible tool of vividly representing data as well as users themselves in collaborative virtual environments. Collaborative virtual environments have been defined as computer-based, distributed virtual worlds in which people can meet, communicate and interact with others, with data and 3D objects. People may be geometrically far from each other, speak different languages and use heterogeneous computer systems. The ultimate goal in developing collaborative virtual environments is to support a smooth collaboration between multiple users which involves considerable communication and negotiation, cooperative and collaborative activities, interaction techniques, and awareness process. Considering these aspects into the design of a collaborative virtual environment, we are interested in four main factors, including immersion, awareness, communication and naturalness. These factors greatly determine the success of a collaborative virtual system. From the need of improving and completing interaction techniques in CVEs considering the four preceding factors, in this research we propose and evaluate new metaphors for 3D navigation and manipulation techniques. The first contribution of this research is to propose and evaluate a set of three navigation metaphors in a collaborative exploration context, including drawing directional arrows, lighting up path to follow, and orientating a compass to show a direction. These navigation metaphors can be dynamically implemented and used without constraints in any 3D virtual environments. The empirical result of our experiment revealed that these navigation metaphors considerably reduced wasted time in a wayfinding task of a collaborative exploring scenario. We have developed, in the second part of this research, a direct manipulation technique in immersive virtual environments. This manipulation technique deals with some difficulties the user often encounters such as hand jitter or Heisenberg effects while manipulating 3D objects in immersive projection systems. By dividing the number of degrees of freedom of the manipulated object into each handle of our tool, our technique enables a user to partially control the object, making the manipulation of large objects easier in immersive virtual environments. The last contribution of this research is the implementation and evaluation of two interaction metaphors in a digital mock-up application. Taking into account the four factors including immersion, awareness, communication and naturalness, we have built a workstation design application for three main users: an end-user, a design engineer and an ergonomics expert. In order to have an optimal immersion for the whole application and natural interaction between them, we have implemented an asymmetric system setup at each user's site. Each user could use some implicit communication metaphors which were simple, natural and still relevant in our collaborative context.
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Thi Thuong Huyen Nguyen. Proposition of new metaphors and techniques for 3D interaction and navigation preserving immersion and facilitating collaboration between distant users. Other [cs.OH]. INSA de Rennes, 2014. English. ⟨NNT : 2014ISAR0031⟩. ⟨tel-01147673v2⟩

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