Interactive Systems for Immersive Spaces

Samuel Chabot – Jonathan Mathews – Jonas Braasch –

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
110 8th St
Troy, NY, 12180

Popular version of paper ‘3aEA7 – Multi-user interactive systems for immersive virtual environments

Presented Wednesday morning, December 01, 2021

181st ASA Meeting

In the past few years, immersive spaces have become increasingly popular. These spaces, most prevalently used as exhibits and galleries, incorporate large displays that completely envelop groups of people, speaker arrays, and even reactive elements that can respond to the actions of the visitors within. One of the primary challenges in creating productive applications for these environments is the integration of intuitive interaction frameworks. For users to take full advantage of these spaces, whether it be for productivity, or education, or entertainment, the interfaces used to interact with data should be both easy to understand, and provide predictable feedback. In the Collaborative Research-Augmented Immersive Virtual Environment, or CRAIVE-Lab, at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, we have integrated a variety of technologies to foster natural interaction with the space. First, we developed a dynamic display environment for our immersive screen, written in JavaScript, to easily create display modules for everything from images to remote desktops. Second, we have incorporated spatial information into these display objects, so that audiovisual content presented on the screen generates spatialized audio over our 128-channel speaker array at the corresponding location. Finally, we have a multi-sensor platform installed, which integrates a top-down camera array, as well as a 16-channel spherical microphone to provide continuous tracking of multiple users, voice activity detection associated with each user, and isolated audio.

By combining these technologies together, we can create a user experience within the room that encourages dynamic interaction with data. For example, delivering a presentation in this space, a process that typically consists of several file transfers and a lackluster visual experience, can now be performed with minimal setup, using the presenter’s own device, and with spatial audio when needed.

Control of lights and speakers can be done via a unified control system. Feedback from the sensor system allows display elements to be positioned relative to the user. Identified users can take ownership of specific elements on the display, and interact with the system concurrently, which makes group interactions and shared presentations far less cumbersome than with typical methods. The elements which make up the CRAIVE-Lab are not particularly novel, as far as contemporary immersive rooms are concerned. However, these elements intertwine into a network which provides functionality for the occupants that is far greater than the sum of its parts.

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