The Cyberwalk project has unveiled the, “unconstrained, quasi-natural, omni-directional”
ability to walk in virtual worlds. This EU project developed a treadmill and tracking framework that allows users to control what they see in virtual worlds by walking through them.
“In the virtual environment you have flight simulators, car simulators, but the most natural way of locomotion for humans is walking and this was practically impossible,” says Marc Ernst, the coordinator of the CyberWalk project at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics.
The treadmill, called CyberCarpet, is roughly 6 meters square. Users can move at speeds up to 2 meters/second, allowing for jogging. Cameras mounted on the framework track the individual on the treadmill and control the velocity and interactions within the environment, which is viewed through a head-mounted display.
The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETHZ) has developed the CityEngine to complement the interface. CityEngine is a software package that allows for quick creation of large-scale virtual environments that mirror popular cities, such as Manhattan shown above.
I’m excited to see where this research leads us in terms of experiencing and exploiting virtual worlds.