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ASME Conference Presenter Attendance Policy and Archival Proceedings

2011;():i. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-NS.
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This online compilation of papers from the ASME 2011 World Conference on Innovative Virtual Reality (WINVR2011) represents the archival version of the Conference Proceedings. According to ASME’s conference presenter attendance policy, if a paper is not presented at the Conference, the paper will not be published in the official archival Proceedings, which are registered with the Library of Congress and are submitted for abstracting and indexing. The paper also will not be published in the ASME Digital Library and may not be cited as a published paper.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

New Trends in Virtual Reality Technology for Industrial Applications

2011;():1-8. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5512.

In the last few years virtual reality applications have started to be introduced in the wide retail field, with immersive 3D models used as a tool for orienting strategic, logistic and marketing choices. However, in the aforementioned applications, the digitalization of the entire Point Of Sale (POS) has not yet been implemented as a standard process for the complexity related to the generation of thousands of texturized 3D models of single products. This work presents an original integrated system for the semi-automatic 3D modeling of simple 3D packages according to a pre-defined classification of shapes, and their management in a data base. Such approach allows to dramatically minimize the modeling time needed for each model and, therefore, of the whole shop, making economically sustainable the reverse modeling of commercial environments. A key advantage of the implemented process is that it can be used by operators non expert in 3D modeling and can be reapplied in several different fields.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():9-18. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5526.

The haptic feedback perceived during the interaction with consumer products is an important aspect since it concurs in creating, together with the aesthetic features and sonic feedback, the emotional response during the first contacts with a product. And this may be decisive for the user’s decision of purchasing a product instead of another one. So the design of the haptic behavior of interaction elements of products can be both a successful strategy for capturing consumers’ attention but even a need for avoiding problems during the use. The paper describes the process of virtualization of the interaction with an industrial consumer product by means of haptic, sound and visualization technologies in order to obtain a prototype (interactive Virtual Prototypes) useful to design and test the haptic feedback of interaction elements directly with end users.

Topics: Design , Haptics
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():19-29. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5530.

Virtual reality as the way to display digital models and to interact with them has flourished in industrial contexts some years ago, both for design and marketing reasons. However, some specific sectors, e.g. furnishings and garments, would prefer to evaluate their products in a real environment, where their models could be easily placed, and where the interaction with them could take place in a natural way. These requirements suggested the design of an application, based on the augmented reality, which allows users placing digital models of pieces of furniture in real domestic environments, verifying their dimensional and aesthetic compatibility with the existing context, and interacting with them to test functional behavior and usability issues. Such a project would result interesting both for possible customers and for designers, because some important design hints could come from its adoption. An application prototype has been developed and tested in the field in a couple of case studies.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():31-40. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5541.

This paper presents the utilization of UML (Unified Modeling Language) state diagrams and activity diagrams in order to model a discrete control system for a virtual reality (VR) application. Discrete control systems are utilized to control the behavior of a virtual model within a VR application. The common approach is to use a graphical notation, whose graphical elements represent states and messages. However, in a technical domain the discrete event system has to integrate technical simulations and engineering models. Furthermore, it needs to be flexible. An UML-based notation facilitates both. Changes are simple by replacing states and transitions of the diagrams. Engineering models are integrated by code templates, which are derived from the UML. This UML-bases notation has been tested. In summary, utilizing UML simplifies to keep track of the behavior models of virtual objects.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():41-50. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5548.

European statistics show that motorbikes road accidents are extremely high and the reduction of such accidents is one of the main concern for the European community. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems are safety electronic systems used to assist the driver in avoiding risks and road accidents, by means of warnings sent before the situation becomes critical. The use of such systems in motorcycle context is currently lacking due to numerous variables that it is necessary to consider for making sure the riding. This paper presents an innovative research for the safety improvement of Powered-Two-Wheelers (PTW) by means of the development of effective and rider-friendly interfaces and interaction elements for the on-bike assistance systems. In particular, the paper presents the experimental results on comfort and safety aspects of two advanced rider assistance systems: the Frontal Collision Warning (FCW) and the Lane Change Support (LCS). The study starts from analyzing results of motorcycle simulator tests performed in 3D Virtual Reality environments which aim is to find recursive rider’s behavior patterns in FCW and LCS situations according to different multimodal type of warnings (visual, audio and haptic). Afterward, the paper presents three different machine learning models, Hidden Markov Models, Support Vector Machines and Artificial Neural Networks, that have been considered for simulating the riders’ behavior patterns according to the reaction time needful for avoiding a front collision. These simulation behavior models enabled to design a warning delivery strategy for apprising the rider of possible dangerous situations due to front collisions. Finally, the paper describes how this warning delivery strategy has been implemented in a HMI (Human Machine Interface) installed on motorbikes. This HMI is thought to offer an effective FCW system based on an understandable but, at the same time, discreet and unobtrusive rider-friendly solution.

Topics: Design
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():51-56. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5558.

Virtual testing is a significant part of the product development process. It is possible to completely solve many problems through the interaction of geometric models, simulation tools, human models with the help of the appropriate software. If, in the course of testing, it is necessary to take into account subjective human perception, one may profitably use a full-size system for immersive projection (VR system). Such a system particularly makes sense in evaluating manufacturing, operating, application or maintenance. The human being interacts with a product whose physical shape does not yet exist in a virtual environment. In this case, the movements of product components are generally indirectly controlled by using a flystick, a wand or a similar input device. In reality many operations in maintenance are determined by the position and posture of the maintenance personal as well as by the mass, center of gravity and dimensions of the object to be manipulated. In a Mixed Reality Environment, it is possible to achieve a meaningful subjective ergonomic evaluation of the abovementioned operations. The paper elucidates a strategy to integrate real product components into a virtual environment. The user applies the real components or tools in the immersive full-size projection of the VR system. The VR system tracks the real object. This way, it is possible to move an invisible object model in the VR system in sync with the movements of the real object. The collision detection tool provided in the VR system is available and signalises contact of the real object with the virtual environment. The demonstrated solution is under consideration for the planning and ergonomic evaluation of service activities. The need of industry for a process that can be controlled in a safe manner is of particular concern. The solution given here is aimed at maintenance to be performed on the brake system of a light-duty truck.

Topics: Maintenance
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():57-66. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5561.

Materials simulation in virtual prototyping is one of the most challenging issues as not completely fulfilled by current devices. It allows Virtual Reality-based interfaces to provide multisensory interaction and to enhance product experience by mainly stimulating user emotional response. In this context the paper presents a new tactile simulation approach based on material surface properties elaboration and processing to stimulate roughness and texture coarseness perception. The developed approach leads to the development of a tactile display and a software tool to manage the configuration of selective stimulating signals. The main problem the research aims at overcoming, regards with the nature of signals adopted by most electrotactile displays and the way to stimulate skin mechanoreceptors. The paper focuses on the description of the adopted approach and of the implemented software tool in order to control the tactile display.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():67-76. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5564.

Human errors during operations, probably more clearly referred to as human or action failures, play an important role in causing industrial accidents. The assessment of human performance, through the identification and measurement of human failures, is a complicated, but essential, task to accomplish in real process plants. Virtual Reality (VR) provides a suitable mean to identify human failures, measure human performance and train field operators to risky situations. Nevertheless, not all the aspects relevant to Human Factors (HF) can be easily identified, assessed and reproduced in Virtual Environments (VE). Indeed, VR seems to be better suited to measure cognitive capabilities, such as Command, Control, and Communication capabilities (commonly referred to as C3 capabilities), rather than anthropometric ones like physical coordination, precision in manipulating and ability to reach. Actually, this is certainly not due to the intrinsic nature of VR but, rather, to its current state of development. Industrial environments, if properly recreated in VR, can allow anticipating people behavior, thus enabling to identify whether critical actions have been identified and to measure human performance. Further, by changing in real-time those experiment parameters, such as weather conditions (e.g., wind speed, direction, intensity) and process variables (e.g., pressure, flow rate, heat duties), the strength of environmental stressors, singularly or in a combined fashion, on cognitive capabilities such as recognition, anticipation, prioritization, and planning, can be suitably measured and assessed. The consequences of actions performed by operators can even be experienced instantly, thus allowing for an incisive and persistent training effect. The manuscript presents an integrated approach to step towards the use of VR to (a) verify whether the identified human failure types are all of those that might occur in reality, (b) identify additional human failure types that might affect plant safety, (c) measure the influence of environmental stressors on human performance. Further, the approach presents a way to collect automatically HF data to be used and manipulated for giving rise to Human Performance Indexes (HPI). Eventually, HPI can then be of real help in supporting decision-making processes for industrial safety.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():77-85. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5579.

This paper presents a speed perception study focusing on the impact of a visual scale factor. This factor corresponds to the ratio between the geometric field of view (of the camera) and the driver’s field of view covered by the screen. 20 participants have reproduced 2 speeds (50 and 90 km/h) without knowing the numerical values of these consigns, and with 5 different visual scale factors: 0.70, 0.85, 1.00, 1.15 and 1.30. We show that this visual factor has a significant impact on the speed reached by the subjects and that the variation of perceived speed can be deducted from the used visual scale factor. To be able to conduct this experiment, we had first to solve an image correction issue. As the visual display is projected on a cylindrical screen, a distortion correction must be performed. This correction is dependent on the viewer’s position and so is also dependent on the visual scale factor. We had then to improve our image warping approach to be able to take into account in real time the observer’s position (which was not the case until now). This paper presents a concise state of the art about image correction and some details about the implementation of the chosen algorithm.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Virtual Reality for Product Development and Prototyping

2011;():87-95. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5501.

This paper presents a new method for the manipulation of a given CAE domain in view of VR based explorations that enables engineers to interactively inspect and analyze a linear static domain. The interactions can ideally be performed in real-time in order to provide an intuitive impression of the changes to the underlying volumetric domain. We take the approach of element masking, i.e. the blending out of computations resulting from computational overhead for inner nodes, based on the inversion of the stiffness matrix. This allows us to optimize the re-simulation loop and to achieve real-time performance for strain and stress distributions with immediate visualization feedback caused by interactively changing boundary conditions. The novelty of the presented approach is a direct coupling of view dependent simulations and its close linkage to post-processing tasks. This allows engineers to also inspect the changes of the stress field inside of the volume during, e.g. cross sectioning.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():97-102. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5514.

Reverse engineering is applied to design sophisticated forms such as car body. In the design process of reverse engineering, a clay model is created to express the designer’s idea and to evaluate the designed shape, after which a CAD model is constructed from the measurement data of the clay model. Modeling a shape in clay takes considerable time and costs, so there are strong demands for a more efficient process. In this study, a design support system which enables designers to model shapes in virtual clay in virtual space was developed. Since the process is carried out using digital data, the time and costs for the modeling are drastically reduced. In the modeling process, virtual clay is cut and deformed using digital tools with aesthetic curves which can be easily and intuitively defined by the designer. In order to define aesthetic curves, two methods are proposed; one by using the deflection curves of a plate spring with minimum strain energy and the other by using constant rhythm curves with constant curvature changing rate. Modeling tests were also carried out to verify the validity of the developed system.

Topics: Modeling
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():103-111. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5515.

Design and engineering in real-world projects is often influenced by reduction of the problem definition, trade-offs during decision-making, possible loss of information and monetary issues like budget constraints or value-for-money problems. In many engineering projects various stakeholders take part in the project process on various levels of communication, engineering and decision-making. During project meetings and VE sessions between the different stakeholder’s, information and data is gathered and put down analogue and/or digitally, consequently stored in reports, minutes and other modes of representation. Results and conclusions derived from these interactions are often influenced by the user’s field of experience and expertise. Personal stakes, idiosyncrasy, expectations, preferences and interpretations of the various project parts could have implications, interfere or procrastinate non-functionality and possible rupture in the collaborative setting and process leading to diminished prospective project targets, requirements and solutions. We present a hybrid tool as a Virtual Assistant (VA) during a collaborative Value Engineering (VE) session in a real-world design and engineering case. The tool supports interaction and decision-making in conjunction with a physical workbench as focal point (-s), user-interfaces that intuit the user during processing. The hybrid environment allows the users to interact un-tethered with real-world materials, images, drawings, objects and drawing instruments. In course of the processing captures are made of the various topics or issues at stake and logged as iterative instances in a database. Real-time visualization on a monitor of the captured instances are shown and progressively listed in the on-screen user interface. During or after the session the stakeholders can go through the iterative time-listing and synthesize the instances according to i.e. topic, dominance, choice or to the degree of priority. After structuring and sorting the data sets the information can be exported to a data or video file. All stakeholders receive or have access to the data files and can track-back the complete process progression. The system and information generated affords reflection, knowledge sharing and cooperation. Redistribution of data sets to other stakeholders, management or third parties becomes more efficient and congruous. Our approach we took during this experiment was to [re]search the communication, interaction and decision-making progressions of the various stakeholders during the VE-session. We observed the behavioral aspects during the various stages of user interaction, following the decision making process and the use of the tool during the course of the session. We captured the complete session on video for analysis and evaluation of the VE process within a hybrid design environment.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():113-122. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5516.

This work presents a novel Augmented Realty (AR) application to superimpose interactive Product Manufacturing Information (PMI) onto paper technical drawings. We augment drawings with contextual data and use a novel tangible interface to access the data in a natural way. We present an optimized PMI data visualization algorithm for CAD models in order to avoid model and annotation cluttering.. Our algorithm ranks the model faces with technical annotations according to angle, distance, occlusion and area. The number of annotations visualized on 3D model is chosen following the cognitive perception theory to avoid information overload. We also extended the navigation metaphor adding the concept of tangible model navigation and flipping using the duplex drawing. As case studies we used annotated models from ASME standards. By using PC hardware and common paper drawings, this approach can be integrated at low-cost in existing industrial processes.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():123-131. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5518.

Assembly is an important part of the product development process. To avoid potential issues during assembly in specialized domains such as aircraft assembly, expert knowledge to predict such issues is helpful. Knowledge based systems can act as virtual experts to provide assistance. Knowledge acquisition for such systems however, is a challenge, and this paper describes one part of an ongoing research to acquire knowledge through a dialog between an expert and a knowledge acquisition system. In particular this paper discusses the use of a situation model for assemblies to present experts with a virtual assembly and help them locate the specific context of the knowledge they provide to the system.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():133-143. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5520.

Virtual Reality technology has been widely applied in the background of industrial evaluation applications. However, a large majority of these applications are focusing on haptics-based assemblies which mainly deal with rigid-body dynamics. Here we concern the real-time haptic interaction with deformable mock-ups aiming at the industrial design evaluation of mechanical parts. The main challenge of this application is that a tradeoff between the deformation accuracy and the interaction performance has to be achieved. In this paper, we propose a two-stage method for a real-time deformation modelling by combining an off-line pre-computation phase and an on-line deformation interaction phase. The key contributions of this paper lie on two aspects. First, during off-line phase, we propose a mesh analysis method which allows us to pre-compute different deformation spaces by anticipating the evaluation scenarios. Moreover, a real-time switch among different deformation spaces is developed so that the on-line deformation computation can focus on degrees of freedom where necessary with respect to users’ interactions. Second, during on-line phase, we apply a division scheme to divide the deformation process into two separate modules which are implemented on different threads to ensure the haptic interaction performance. Experiments are carried out based on a prototype implementation concerning different models of growing complexity. The deformation accuracy and the real-time performance are discussed.

Topics: Rendering
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():145-153. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5524.

This paper presents a novel method to tie geometric boundary representation (BREP) to voxel-based collision detection for use in haptic manual assembly simulation. Virtual Reality, in particular haptics, has been applied with promising results to improve preliminary product design, assembly prototyping and maintenance operations. However, current methodologies do not provide support for low clearance assembly tasks, reducing the applicability of haptics to a small subset of potential situations. This paper discusses a new approach, which combines highly accurate CAD geometry (boundary representation) with voxel models to support a hybrid method involving both geometric constraint enforcement and voxel-based collision detection to provide stable haptic force feedback. With the methods presented here, BREP data can be accessed during voxel-based collision detection. This information can be used for constraint recognition and lead to constraint-guidance during the assembly process.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():155-163. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5527.

In mobile machine industry, work machine simulators can be used to save time and costs in product development and training. However, investing into expensive or difficult-to-use technology should be avoided if it does not affect measurable user performance or feeling of presence. At Tampere University of Technology, a virtual loader simulator has been constructed in an three-wall walk-in virtual environment. The goal of this research was to investigate how the immersivity of the simulator affects testers’ feeling of presence. A total of 25 test users performed two test runs each with different simulator setups, and the presence level of each user was evaluated by a questionnaire after both runs. The results indicate that switching from 2D view to 3D stereoscopic display did not significantly affect the sense of presence. However, with the motion platform, the test users reported clearly higher presence ratings than without it. In addition, we examined some effects of the users’ backgrounds: Test users who had experience from driving large work machines reported lower presence ratings than those without such experience. The sense of presence for frequent computer players was higher than for non-players, but only in one simulator setup.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():165-174. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5529.

We are interested in supporting users in a real world application, that of troubleshooting malfunctioning office devices, such as printers or copiers. Basing upon findings from case studies of troubleshooting activities that we conducted, we are constructing a Mixed Reality troubleshooting system. The system allows end-users to try to solve the problem they are experiencing with the device by themselves, with online support available on the device, or by collaborating with a remote troubleshooter. The architecture of the system is centered on a 3D representation of the device augmented with status data of the actual device coming from its internal sensors. The 3D representation is provided to the end-users on the device screen and to the remote troubleshooters on their desktops and it offers a number of means to interact with it providing help for troubleshooting the device. The main purpose of this paper is to illustrate a new interaction mode with the virtual representation for the end-users that we are designing for our system and that is based on the use of a detachable device screen.

Topics: Sensors , Design
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():175-182. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5531.

This paper discusses and presents graphical representation of roads as 3D geometric object in virtual reality and Matlab in accordance with civil road construction rules concerning aspects for macro level: vertical and horizontal road alignment and micro level: surface rugosity. In the following are presented implementation methods and the advantages for road graphical modeling in 3D with the help of virtual reality in both macro and micro level. The goal of the paper is to present a modular approach for development of a fully integrated 3D road model using virtual reality with Matlab. The computed parameters are included into VRML/X3D files which are useful for development of car driving simulators.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():183-191. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5533.

The use of haptic devices in Virtual Reality applications makes the interaction with the digital objects easier, by involving the sense of touch in the simulation. The most widespread devices are stylus-based, so the user interacts with the virtual world via either a tool or a stylus. These kinds of devices have been effectively used in several virtual prototyping applications, in order to allow the users to easily interact with the digital model of a product. Among the several open issues related to these applications, there is the choice of the set-up and of the techniques adopted to combine the visual and the haptic stimuli. This paper presents the comparison of three different solutions specifically studied for virtual prototyping applications and in particular for usability assessment. The first is a simple desktop configuration where the user looks at a screen, and visual and haptic stimuli are presented in a de-located manner. The second is a HMD based set-up where the user has a more natural first-person immersive interaction. The third requires a video-see-trough HMD in order to augment the virtual scene with the visualization of the real user’s hand. The test realized with the users on these three different setups have been finalized to study the effect of two different factors that are crucial for the effectiveness and the user-friendliness of the interaction. One is the perception of the visual and haptic stimuli in a collocated manner; the other is the visualization of his/her own hand during the interaction with the virtual product.

Topics: Haptics
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():193-198. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5534.

Digital Mock-up (DMU) is a widely introduced technology to virtually investigate geometrical and mechanical product properties. Functional Digital Mock-up (FunctionalDMU) is a combination of traditional DMU with behavioral simulation in mechatronics. Enhancing DMU with functional aspects, considerably more insight in product properties can be gained. To enable FunctionalDMU two main tasks have to be solved: a) simulators in the areas of mechanics, electronics, and software simulation have to talk to each other (coupling) and b) the simulation results have to be visualized in an interactive DMU environment. In this paper we present an independent and open approach to a FunctionalDMU framework including co-simulation. Starting with proprietary and natively given behavior and geometric models (in formats like JT), we wrap the behavior models into SysML to enable data exchange on an agreed and standardized format. The native behavior models still are executed in the corresponding simulators. The simulators are linked to the FunctionalDMU framework using a wrapping approach. Currently we support simulators such as Matlab/Simulink, Dymola, Saber, Rhapsody, SimPack, ANSYS with our framework. During simulation a simulator coupling algorithm controls the simulation processes. A dedicated visualization environment enables the user to interact with the simulation, i.e., to send simulation stimuli, change parameters, observe the simulation run etc. This paper introduces the components of the FunctionalDMU framework and illustrates the approach with an application example.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():199-206. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5535.

Nowadays, Virtual Prototyping (VP) methods are widely used for product design and development purposes. In particular, VP methods are now used also for the orthopedic products development process, to better understand the functional performance of prostheses or implants within the musculoskeletal system. In fact, developing validated virtual models of joints or of other anatomical structures may reduce design and prototyping costs and compress development cycles. The purpose of this paper is to point out first the state of art of both the VP technologies and the kinds of virtual models used in the medical field, with particular attention to those used for the design and development of orthopedic products. Then, it focuses on a qualitative analysis of some biomechanical simulation software packages (LifeMOD, AnyBody, and OpenSim) as tools for the improvement of the product design and development processes.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():207-215. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5540.

The paper describes a collaborative Mixed-Reality (MR) environment to support the product design assessment. In particular, we have developed a collaborative platform that enables us to improve the design and the evaluation of cars interior. The platform consists of two different systems: the 3D Haptic Modeler (3DHM) and the Mixed Reality Seating Buck (MRSB). The 3DHM is a workbench that allows us to modify the 3D model of a car dashboard by using a haptic device, while the MRSB is a configurable structure that enables us to simulate different driving seats. The two systems allow the collaboration among designers, engineers and end users in order to get, as final result, a concept design of the product that satisfies both design constraints and end users’ preferences. The usability of our collaborative MR environment has been evaluated by means of some testing sessions, based on two different case studies, with the involvement of users.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():217-223. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5543.

This paper describes the VR technologies Case New Holland has implemented in the past few years and their impact on product development by use various examples. It has shown that VR can be used through the entire product life cycle with significant benefits. It enables developmental personnel through the entire enterprise to get involved much earlier and engaged in a much more proactive way. It also shows that developing a process that is efficient and seamless through development cycle is critical to VR’s success.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():225-233. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5544.

Actually, virtual reality is introduced in so many areas, such as medicine, automotive industry, robotics, entertainment, etc. A common interest of these areas is related with the user interaction, or with devices allowing users to interact with virtual reality. In this work we present the development of a prototype to capture the user’s fingers motion, obtaining the flexion angles of the fingers and representing them in a virtual assembly environment. The developed prototype is composed by a mechanical system which transmits the generated flexion movements of the medial and proximal phalanges. The movement is transmitted using a nylon cable, which is captured by the use of a webcam. The offset of the cable is measured, and this permits to obtain the angular variation of the generated flexion by the phalanges. The Lucas-Kanade algorithm is used to follow, in a high velocity, the cable displacement. Experimental results showed that angular resolution is very high and angular capture-rate is over 30fps. We present an implementation of our prototype in a virtual assembly environment.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():235-242. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5547.

The effective capture of legacy knowledge and information during all aspects of the product development cycle is one of the biggest remaining challenges in engineering companies. Life Cycle Engineering requires the capture of engineering information and knowledge created during design sessions to support knowledge reuse, product reengineering and training. In the past, many attempts have been made to determine if this is possible; however, those that are partially successful are very time consuming, expensive to implement and interrupt the engineers’ creativity. This work investigates and demonstrates new and novel paradigms for knowledge and information capture by adapting and applying a well recognised knowledge capture methodology to suit the non-intrusive automated real time logging, capture and post processing of engineering knowledge using a head-mounted display virtual reality (VR) design system. This logging is accomplished during individual cable harness design tasks carried out by 12 cable harness design engineers from five industrial partners to demonstrate the effective, unobtrusive and automatic capture and representation of various forms of engineering design knowledge and information. The formats were subsequently evaluated by the engineers to determining those they consider best at conveying design knowledge and information for other engineers.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():243-252. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5550.

Virtual Prototyping (VP) reproduces a complete machine to test it several times, as a scale 1:1 laboratory prototype. VP utilizes various CAE tools, such as 3D modelling, Structural FEA, Multibody Dynamic Analysis (MDA), Multiaxial fatigue analysis, and Fluid Structure Interaction (FSI) in an integrated way. The VP of a rotating machine allows considering a realistic stepless loading pattern throughout the complete revolution and determining automatically the fatigue safety factors within the whole machine structural assembly, while FSI allows dealing simultaneously with thermodynamic, motion and deformation phenomena. This approach was used to review the design of the crank mechanism and cylinders of an existing reciprocating compressor. The loads (including inertia forces) were applied to the gudgeon pin and, by means of the MDA, to all the other components. An advanced approach, based on Fluid Structure Interaction (FSI) analysis, was applied for the thermodynamic analysis of the cylinder’s efficiency. A 3D CFD Model, simulating the cylinder with mobile piston and valves, was developed and experimentally validated. The 3D domain simulating the compression chamber changes with the piston motion law while valve rings move according to the fluid dynamic forces.

Topics: Compressors , Design
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():253-261. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5557.

This paper concerns the usage of virtual humans to validate lower limb prosthesis design. In particular, we are developing an innovative design framework centered on digital models of the whole patient or of his/her anatomical districts, which constitute the backbone of the design process. The framework integrates a set of virtual “assistants” to guide the technicians during each design task providing specific knowledge and design rules. In this paper, we focus the attention on the last step of the prosthesis deign process, i.e., the final set-up with the patient using a biomechanical model of the amputee. First, we describe the state of art on virtual humans and main features of the new design framework. Then, the application of virtual humans for the prosthesis set-up is presented as well as preliminary results.

Topics: Prostheses
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():263-272. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5562.

Utilizing user-centred system design and evaluation method has become an increasingly important tool to foster better usability in the field of virtual environments (VEs). In recent years, although it is still the norm that designers and developers are concerning the technological advancement and striving for designing impressive multimodal multisensory interfaces, more and more awareness are aroused among the development team that in order to produce usable and useful interfaces, it is essential to have users in mind during design and validate a new design from users’ perspective. In this paper, we describe a user study carried out to validate a newly developed haptically enabled virtual training system. By taking consideration of the complexity of individual differences on human performance, adoption and acceptance of haptic and audio-visual I/O devices, we address how well users learn, perform, adapt to and perceive object assembly training. We also explore user experience and interaction with the system, and discuss how multisensory feedback affects user performance, perception and acceptance. At last, we discuss how to better design VEs that enhance users perception, their interaction and motor activity.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():273-278. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5570.

Over the years, various approaches have been investigated to support natural human interaction with CAD models in an immersive virtual environment. The motivation for this avenue of research stems from the desire to provide a method where users can manipulate and assemble digital product models as if they were manipulating actual models. The ultimate goal is to produce an immersive environment where design and manufacturing decisions which involve human interaction can be made using only digital CAD models, thus avoiding the need to create costly preproduction physical prototypes. This paper presents a framework to approach the development of virtual assembly applications. The framework is based on a Two Phase model where the assembly task is divided into a free movement phase and a fine positioning phase. Each phase can be implemented using independent techniques; however, the algorithms needed to interface between the two techniques are critical to the success of the method. The paper presents a summary of three virtual assembly techniques and places them within the framework of the Two Phase model. Finally, the conclusions call for the continued development of a testbed to compare virtual assembly methods.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():279-285. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5580.

Currently, quality management is carried out in a sequential feed forward manner. Inspections are carried out from process to process. As the requirements are getting diversified, the number of inspections increases rapidly. This approach is verification-based. But if we look at quality management from validation point of view, another quality management and inspection approach comes up. It is to look at quality management in the reverse direction from customers’ point of view. If we consider quality as satisfaction of our customers, then we can reduce the number of inspections and focus our efforts to carry out inspections to really satisfy our customers, not to satisfy design requirements. To achieve this goal, we have to characterize our customer’s quality requirements as patterns and use customer’s profiles of quality to manage quality in production. This is a feed back approach and we need feedback information about how our customers use our machines. Although this approach has great benefits of really satisfying our customers and of substantially reducing number of inspections, its disadvantage is that it cannot be applied to new products. But if we utilize VR technology, we can estimate how our customers will use such new products in their own environments and can obtain our customer’s profiles of quality requirements before they are really put to use. Such virtual feedback will enable application of reverse quality management to new products and would satisfy our customers greatly and would reduce the number of inspections greatly. Last but most important is that such feedback information will provide us with information how we should change our design models to really meet our customer’s expectations.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():287-291. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5582.

With the proliferation of large screen stereo display systems, major consumer product manufacturers are using this technology to test marketing ideas on consumers. One of the performance factors that is of interest to retailers or manufacturers of retail products is the ability of consumers to quickly and easily locate their products within a retail store. Virtual reality technology can be used to create a virtual store that is easily reconfigurable as a test environment for consumer feedback. The research presented in this paper involves a study that compares the use of a multi-wall immersive environment to a single-wall immersive environment. Users were given a list of products to find in the virtual store. A physical mockup of a shopping cart was created and instrumented in order to be used to navigate throughout the virtual store. The findings indicate that participants in the five-wall immersive environment were significantly faster in locating the objects than the participants using the one-wall immersive environment. In addition, participants in the five-wall condition reported that the shopping cart was easier to use than in the one-wall condition. This study indicates that the use of multiple walls to provide an increased sense of immersion improves the ability of consumers to locate items within a virtual shopping experience.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():293-299. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5585.

Haptic force-feedback offers a valuable cue in exploration and manipulation of virtual environments. However, grounding of many commercial kinesthetic haptic devices limits the workspace accessible using a purely position-control scheme. The bubble technique has been recently presented as a method for expanding the user’s haptic workspace. The bubble technique is a hybrid position-rate control system in which a volume, or “bubble,” is defined entirely within the physical workspace of the haptic device. When the device’s end effector is within this bubble, interaction is through position control. When exiting this volume, an elastic restoring force is rendered, and a rate is applied that moves the virtual accessible workspace. Existing work on the bubble technique focuses on point-based touching tasks. When the bubble technique is applied to simulations where the user is grasping virtual objects with part-part collision detection, unforeseen interaction problems surface. This paper discusses three details of the user experience of coupled-object manipulation with the bubble technique. A few preliminary methods of addressing these interaction challenges are introduced.

Topics: Haptics
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Virtual Reality and Cognition

2011;():301-307. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5522.

We present an immersive virtual environment being developed to study questions of risk perception and their impacts on effective training. Immersion is known to effect the quality of training in virtual environments, and the successful transfer of skills to real world situations. However, the level of perceived immersiveness that an environment invokes is an ill defined concept, and effects of different types of immersion are known to have greater and lesser influences on training outcomes. We concentrate on how immersiveness effects perceived risk in virtual environments, and how risk impacts training effectiveness. Simulated risk can invoke an alief of danger in subjects using a virtual environment. Alief is a concept useful in virtual training that describes situations where the person experiencing a simulated scenario knows it is not real, but suspends disbelief (willingly or unwillingly). This suspension of belief (alief) can cause the person to experience the same sorts of autonomic reactions as if they were experiencing the situation in real life (for example, think of fear invoked on amusement park rides). Alief of risk or danger has been proposed as one phenomenon that can influence training outcomes, like the experience of immersion, when training in virtual environments. In this paper we present work on developing a low-cost virtual environment for the manipulation of immersion and risk for cognitive studies. In this environment we provide several alternative input modalities, from mouse to Wii remote interactivity, to control a virtual avatar’s hand and arm for performing risky every day tasks. Immersion can be manipulated in several ways, as well as the type and risk associated with tasks. Typical tasks include performing kitchen preparation work (using knives or hot items), or wood or metal working tasks (involving manipulation of dangerous tools). This paper describes the development and technologies used to create the virtual environment, and how we vary risk perception and immersion of users for various cognitive tasks. The capabilities and manipulations of immersiveness and risk are presented together with some findings on using Wii motes as input devices in several ways for virtual environments. The paper concludes with some preliminary results of varying perceived risk on cognitive task performance in the developed environment.

Topics: Virtual reality
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():309-314. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5523.

The main objective of this paper is to investigate whether observers are able to perceive depth of virtual objects within virtual environments during reaching tasks. In other words, we tackled the question of observer immersion in a displayed virtual environment. For this purpose, eight observers were asked to reach for a virtual objects displayed within their peripersonal space in two conditions: condition one provided a small virtual sphere that was displayed beyond the subjects index finger as an extension of their hand and condition two provided no visual feedback. In addition, audio feedback was provided when the contact with the virtual object was made in both conditions. Although observers slightly overestimated depth within the peripersonal space, they accurately aimed for the virtual objects based on the kinematics analysis. Furthermore, no significant difference was found concerning the movement between conditions for all observers. Observers accurately targeted the virtual point correctly with regard to time and space. This suggests the virtual environment sufficiently simulated the information normally present in the central nervous system.

Topics: Virtual reality
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():315-324. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5539.

Interacting with computers by using the bodily motion is one of the challenging topics in the Virtual Reality field, especially as regards the interaction with large scale virtual environments. This paper presents a device for interacting with a Virtual Reality environment that is based on the detection of the muscular activity and movements of the user by the fusion of two different signals. The idea is that through muscular activities a user is capable of moving a cursor in the virtual space, and making some actions through gestures. The device is based on an accelerometer and on electromyography, a technique that derives from the medical field and that is able to recognize the electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles during their contraction. The device consists of cheap and easy to replicate components: seven electrodes pads and a small and wearable board for the acquisition of the sEMG signals from the user’s forearm, a 3 DOF accelerometer that is positioned on the user’s wrist (used for moving the cursor in the space) and a glove worn on the forearm in which these components are inserted. The device can be easily used without tedious settings and training. In order to test the functionality, performances and usability issues of the device we have implemented an application that has been tested by a group of users. Specifically, the device has been used as natural interaction technique in an application for drawing in a large scale virtual environment. The muscular activity is acquired by the device and used by the application for controlling the dimension and color of the brush.

Topics: Virtual reality
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():325-329. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5542.

Virtual environments (VEs) are developed to invoke feelings of presence in the digitally created representations, which leads to people perceiving and enacting actions as they would in corresponding real world environments. Even though significant strides have been made in enhancing the level of realism of virtual systems, there is still a long way to go toward a system that could provide full immersive experiences. Furthermore, the development cycle of a high realism system can be time consuming and costly. On the theoretical side, this desire of achieving the feeling of presence is not always consistent with the body of literature on grounded cognition, where the environment is known to significantly impact the user’s perception and action. Nevertheless, many studies have shown that people reported the feeling of presence even though the VEs they interacted with were far from realistic representations of the actual environments. This raised a question as to what dimensions of the environments are essential in triggering the feelings of presence. Instead of taking the approach where a fairly immersive system is used and a particular variable is investigated to ascertain its effects on the feelings of presence, the approach used in the current work investigated whether people reduce the potential injury to an avatar by starting out with a low to medium visual realism environment and scaling up to a higher visual realism. The results in the current study suggest that compared to enacting actions in the real world with one’s own body, people are more likely to bring injury to an avatar. This indicates that high visual realism may not be the essential ingredient in invoking the feelings of presence that regulate risk taking behaviors. The limitation and the next step of this research are discussed.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():331-341. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5545.

This paper deals with the effects of different washout algorithms used for Stewart platforms on subjective and objective ratings. Washout algorithms are used to represent vehicle dynamics in a restricted spatial place. An adaptive washout algorithm was realized to control the hexapod platform, depending on the specific force error in longitudinal, lateral and vertical directions, in order to compare user’s experience with those in the case of classical algorithm. In this study, the simulator sickness has been evaluated for three algorithms in dynamic driving simulator situation in objective and subjective way.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():343-349. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5565.

Magnetic resonance diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and functional MRI (fMRI) are two active research areas in neuroimaging. DTI is sensitive to the anisotropic diffusion of water exerted by its macromolecular environment and has been shown useful in characterizing structures of ordered tissues such as the brain white matter, myocardium, and cartilage. The diffusion tensor provides two new types of information of water diffusion: the magnitude and the spatial orientation of water diffusivity inside the tissue. This information has been used for white matter fiber tracking to review physical neuronal pathways inside the brain. Functional MRI measures brain activations using the hemodynamic response. The statistically derived activation map corresponds to human brain functional activities caused by neuronal activities. The combination of these two methods provides a new way to understand human brain from the anatomical neuronal fiber connectivity to functional activities between different brain regions. In this study, virtual reality (VR) based MR DTI and fMRI visualization with high resolution anatomical image segmentation and registration, ROI definition and neuronal white matter fiber tractography visualization and fMRI activation map integration is proposed. Rationale and methods for producing and distributing stereoscopic videos are also discussed.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():351-355. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5584.

Immersive virtual reality models can be effectively used in understanding the system behavior. It will also help the students to understand the influences of boundary conditions by reflection. In particular, those systems which are not suitable for laboratory experiment can be handled using virtual reality platform. In this research, groundwater solute transport simulation was developed as a laboratory module. Groundwater system movement takes place beneath ground. Recently, several sites were contaminated due to manmade activities. This complex process is very difficult to understand with varying boundary conditions. If there is an uncertainity associated with the modeling parameters, remedial alternatives planned may be not as effective as expected. Behavior changes under these circumstances can be tackled through a sensitivity analysis and incorporated in virtual 3D. In this study, by varying the hydraulic conductivity systematically in different layers, the possible variations in the groundwater contamination plume movements were examined for different simulation time domains with remedial alternatives.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Virtual Reality for Leading Edge and Emerging Applications

2011;():357-366. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5553.

ESPINA is an image segmentation tool designed to analyse microscopy images in order to identify neuronal structures and to produce 3D models of these structures. This tool allows to display three-dimensional volumes using auto-stereoscopic monitors. It was initially designed for workstations, but when data volume management or its processing complexity makes unfeasible the implementation of the new tools on these computers, it is necessary to resort to computing servers that delimit response times or by means of scalable solutions and algorithmic optimizations. This paper analyses the migration of this tool from the original implementation to a scalable solution and describes the experience achieved during the development of the workstation version. The proposed alternative is a distributed version of the tool that delegate heavy-computational processes to a cluster, improving the performance of the system in a master/slave architecture.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():367-376. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5554.

VR Simulators are a powerful alternative to traditional educational techniques in many domains; and in particular, in surgery. Although they offer new possibilities for learning, training and assessment, they still found difficult to be accepted and integrated into hospitals. In this paper, we explain what we consider the key issues to create successful VR simulators, and we present two methodologies: the guidelines for the simulator design and the evaluation of their validity. Research on VR surgical simulators should be interdisciplinary. It involves medicine, educational psychology, computer science, and engineering. Optimal interdisciplinary communication is difficult, and most projects in surgical simulation are strongly influenced by the engineering perspective, with little or no contributions from the others. This unbalance often leads to a premature end of the project or to simulators which are less practical for surgeons. A design methodology should be used as a guide in the process of creating VR simulators. A thorough description of the problem, the simulator’s role, and an exhaustive task analysis will lead to the identification of the requirements. For the technical implementation, decisions will be taken related to the hardware interface and the interaction that users will have with the virtual world; which will determine collision detection and response algorithms, and the behaviour of the 3D models. In addition to the technical testing, it is necessary to prove the validity of the simulator and design procedures to measure the user performance. We explain a methodology to evaluate the validity (face, content, and criterion-related validity), reliability and transfer of skills from a VR simulator to the real environment in a structured and rigorous way. Following this methodology, an evaluation experiment involving 19 orthopaedic doctors using a VR arthroscopy simulator was carried out. Results prove face and content validities, and inform about the factors and measures that are considered important for arthroscopic surgery. In order to consolidate the research results, we encourage the establishment of an intersectorial consortium with agents from the academic, healthcare and industrial sectors to ensure the long-term sustainability of research lines, additional funding, and to guarantee that simulators, once validated, can be widely available in hospitals. This paper presents a global approach including relevant guidelines and methodologies for designing and evaluating VR simulators. It can provide a solid structure for other researchers when facing those processes and contribute to the successful integration of VR simulators within the educational curriculum.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():377-384. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5560.

This study represents a preliminary step towards data-driven computation of contact dynamics during manipulation of deformable objects at two points of contact. A modeling approach is proposed that characterizes the individual interaction at both points and the mutual effects of the two interactions on each other via a set of parameters. Both global as well as local coordinate systems are tested for encoding the contact mechanics. Artificial neural networks are trained on simulated data to capture the object behavior. A comparison of test data with the output of the trained system reveals a mean squared error percentage between 1% and 3% for simple interactions.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():385-394. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5563.

In the field of Minimally Invasive Surgery, trainers based on virtual reality provide a very useful, non degradable, realistic training environment. The project of building this new type of trainers requires the development of new tools. In this paper, we describe a set of new measures that allow calculating the optimal position and orientation of haptic devices versus the virtual workspace of the application. We illustrate the use of these new tools applying them to a practical application.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():395-405. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5569.

The AugmenTable is a desktop augmented reality workstation intended for conceptual design and prototyping. It combines a thin form factor display, inexpensive web cameras, and a PC into a unique system that enables natural interaction with virtual and physical parts. This initial implementation of the AugmenTable takes advantage of the popular open source augmented reality software platform ARToolkit to enable manual interaction with physical parts, as well as interaction with virtual parts via a physically marked pointer or a color-marked fingertip. This paper describes similar previous work, the methods used to create the AugmenTable, the novel interaction it affords users, and a number of avenues for advancing the system in the future.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():407-414. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5575.

Planck is an international mission led by the European Space Agency with significant contribution by NASA, designed to measure the anisotropy of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), the oldest radiation of the universe, with the greatest accuracy and precision of any such CMB experiment to date. The present work was completed as part of the Planck Education and Public Outreach (E/PO) effort to communicate the results of Planck science to the public. The Planck Mission Simulation is a multiplatform, interactive visualization of the mission, from launch to orbital insertion to data gathering operations. The simulation was developed for a number of hardware and software configurations. Originally designed for a multi-screen virtual reality system, the scope of project grew to include other systems, including 3D kiosk displays, stereoscopic televisions, and domed-roomed systems. Implementation factors, technical details, and lessons learned from deployment on various platforms are discussed.

Topics: Simulation
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():415-422. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5578.

As part of ongoing activities in wind energy education, Purdue University Calumet will be installing a Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (VAWT) on the roof of an academic campus building. While several potential sites have been identified as feasible, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation has been coupled with virtual reality to assist in assessing the optimal location for the turbine. Using measured data, a wind field was developed taking into account flow distribution around relevant campus buildings. Visualization methods were then used to show wind flow combined with geometric models of buildings and trees on campus. Factors used for the final decision include sustained wind speeds, turbulent flows, and aesthetic look at various roof-top locations.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
2011;():423-430. doi:10.1115/WINVR2011-5583.

In order to adapt to an ever-changing set of threats, military forces need to find new methods of training. The prevalence of commercial game engines combined with virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality environments can prove beneficial to training. Live, virtual and constructive (LVC) training combines live people, virtual environments and simulated actors to create a better training environment. However, integrating virtual reality displays, software simulations and artificial weapons into a mixed reality environment poses numerous challenges. A mixed reality environment known as The Veldt was constructed to research these challenges. The Veldt consists of numerous independent displays, along with movable walls, doors and windows. This allows The Veldt to simulate numerous training scenarios. Several challenges were encountered in creating this system. Displays were precisely located using the tracking system, then configured using VR Juggler. The ideal viewpoint for each display was configured based on the expect location for users to be looking at it. Finally, the displays were accurately aligned to the virtual terrain model. This paper describes how the displays were configured in The Veldt, as well as how it was used for two training scenarios.

Topics: Virtual reality
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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