Review of Virtual Environment Interface Technology

IDA Paper P-3186

By Christine Youngblut, Rob E. Johnson, Sarah H. Nash, Ruth A. Wienclaw, and Craig A. Will

Final, March 1996

Available for Download in Self-Extracting Binhexed File of Macintosh users (Recommended) and Adobe Acrobat PDF - 25 files and Adobe Postscript - 27 files For Macintosh users, you can download

© 1996 Institute for Defense Analyses, 1801 N. Beauregard Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22311-1772 * (703) 845-2000.

Permission is granted to any individual or institution to use, copy, or distribute this document in its paper or digital form so long as it is not sold fo profit or used for commercial advantage, and that it is reproduced whole and unaltered, credit to the source is given, and this copyright notice is retained. This document may not be posted on any web, ftp, or similar site without the permission of the Institute for Defense Analyses.

The work was conducted under the IDA's independent research program. The publication of this IDA paper does not indicate endorsement by the Department of Defense or any other Government agency, nor should the contents be construed as reflecting the official position of any Government agency.


This report reviews current interface technology for use in virtual environments. Visual, tracking, auditory, primary user input (including, for example, glove, body suit, exoskeleton, track ball, and 3-D mouse inputs), tactile, kinesthetic, full-body motion, and olfactory interface technologies are covered. In each case, the relevant human capabilities are discussed, followed by descriptions of some available commercial products and ongoing research and development efforts. This information is used as the basis for predicting how virtual environment interfaces are likely to change in the next five years.

Table of Contents


List of Figures



1.1 Purpose
1.2 Scope
1.3 Limitations
1.3.1 Organization


4 Files - PDF:

4 Files - Postscript:

2.1 The Human Visual System
2.2 Commercial Products
2.2.1 Datavisor Displays
2.2.2 FS5 Head-Mounted Display
2.2.3 CyberEye 100M and 100S
2.2.4 CyberMaxx CM1800
2.2.5 Dvisor Head-Mounted Display
2.2.6 i-glasses!
2.2.7 MRG Head-Mounted Displays
2.2.8 VIM Personal Viewer
2.2.9 VFX1 Head-Mounted Display System
2.2.10 VR4 Head-Mounted Display
2.2.11 VRI HMD 133
2.2.12 CrystalEyes Shutter Glasses
2.2.13 VR-1100 and VR-2000 Stereoscopic Projection Systems
2.2.14 BOOM 3C
2.2.15 Cyberface 4
2.2.16 Fakespace Simulation System
2.2.17 PUSH
2.2.18 Virtual Window
2.3 Current Research and Development
2.3.1 ATR Communications System Research Laboratories, Japan
2.3.2 British Aerospace plc, United Kingdom
2.3.3 BT Laboratories, United Kingdom
2.3.4 Canon, Inc., Japan
2.3.5 Dimension Technologies, Inc.
2.3.6 Dimensional Media Associates
2.3.7 IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center and Georgia Institute of Technology
2.3.8 Infinity Multimedia
2.3.9 NASA Ames Research Center
2.3.10 Purdue University
2.3.11 Terumo Corporation, Japan
2.3.12 University of Illinois at Chicago
2.3.13 University of New Brunswick, Canada
2.3.14 University of Washington
2.3.15 Xenotech, Australia
2.4 Summary and Expectations


3.1 Head Tracking
3.1.1 Commercially Available Trackers ADL-1 Vidtronics Wrightrac Fastrak Isotrak II Insidetrak Ultratrak Flock of Birds PC/BIRD SpacePad CyberTrack 3.2 Wayfinder-VR Mouse-Sense3D Selcom AB, SELSPOT II OPTOTRAK 3020 MacReflex Motion Measurement System DynaSight BioVision Mandala Virtual Reality Systems REALWare RK-447 Multiple Target Tracking System Head/Hand XYZ Tracker GP12-3D (Freepoint 3D) Logitech 3D Mouse and Head Tracker MotionPak GyroPoint Pro
3.1.2 Current R&D in Head Tracking NASA Ames Research Center Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Research Laboratory of Electronics Computer Graphics Systems Development (CGSD) Corporation University of North Carolina Artificial Reality Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Media Lab Sony, Computer Science Laboratory Siemens' Central Research and Development Boeing Information and Support Services, CMU, Honeywell, Inc., and Virtual Vision, Inc. University of Washington
3.2 Eye Tracking
3.2.1 Commercially Available Eye Trackers BioMuse Headhunter Head and Eye Tracking System Eyegaze System Dual-Purkinje-Image (DPI) Eyetracker
3.2.2 Current R&D in Eye Tracking Hughes Training-Link Corporation Interactive Systems Laboratories (INTERACT) State University of New York
3.2.3 Summary and Expectations


4.1 The Human Auditory System
4.2 Commercially Available 3-D Audio Products
4.2.1 Acoustetron II
4.2.2 Protron
4.2.3 Q Products
4.2.4 RSS-10 Sound Space Processor
4.2.5 SDX-330 Dimensional Expander
4.2.6 SRV-330 Dimensional Space Reverb and SDE-330 Dimensional Space Delay
4.2.7 SoundStorm 3D
4.2.8 Virtual Audio Processing System
4.3 Current Research and Development
4.3.1 NASA Ames
4.3.2 Naval Postgraduate School
4.4 Summary and Expectations


5.1 Whole-Hand and Body Inputs
5.1.1 The Human Hand and Arm Position Sense
5.1.2 Commercially Available Devices 5th Glove CyberGlove Dextrous HandMaster Pinch Glove Position Exoskeleton ArmMaster TCAS DATAWEAR
5.1.3 Current Research and Development Armstrong Laboratory Georgia Institute of Technology
5.2 3-D Pointing Input
5.2.1 Commercially Available Devices CyberWand Immersion PROBE-MD Magellan 3D Controller and Space Controller RingMouse Spaceball 2003 and Space Controller
5.2.2 Current R&D Digital Image Design Inc. University of Toronto
5.3 Summary and Expectations


3 Haptic Files:

3 Postscript Files:

6.1 Tactile Interfaces
6.1.1 The Human Tactile Sense
6.1.2 Commercially Available Interface Devices CyberTouch TouchMaster Tactool System Displaced Temperature Sensing System
6.1.3 Current Research and Development Armstrong Laboratory Begej Corporation Harvard University Hokkaido University, Japan Hull University, UK Massachusetts Institute of Technology Research Center at Karlsruhe, Germany Sandia National Laboratories TiNi Alloy Company University of Salford, UK
6.2 Kinesthetic Interfaces
6.2.1 The Human Kinesthetic Sense
6.2.2 Commercially Available Devices 4 DOF Force Feedback Master (Surgical Simulator) Force Exoskeleton ArmMaster Impulse Engine Family Interactor and Interactor Cushion HapticMaster Hand Exoskeleton Haptic Display PER-Force 3DOF PER-Force Handcontroller and Finger Forcer Option PHANToM SAFiRE
6.2.3 Current R&D Boeing Computer Services Computer Graphics Systems Development Corporation Hokkaido University, Japan Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Artificial Intelligence Laboratory Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Mechanical Engineering McGill University, Canada Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Agency of Industrial Science and Technology (MITI/AIST), Japan Northwestern University Rutgers University Suzuki Motor Corporation Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan University of North Carolina University of Tsukuba, Japan University of Washington
6.3 Summary and Expectations


3 Haptic Files:

3 Postscript Files:

7.1 The Human Motion Sense
7.2 Self-Motion Interfaces
7.2.1 Commercial Products Aerotrim CyberPak CyberTron DreamGlider Orbotron, X-otron VR, and Supertron PemRAM Motion Bases SimuPod SimuSled
7.2.2 Current Research and Development Computer Graphics Systems Development Corporation Cybernet Systems Corporation Institute for Simulation and Training Sarcos Research Corporation Systran Corporation University College London, UK University of Tsukuba, Japan
7.3 Passive Motion Interfaces
7.3.1 Commercial Products Cyber Air Base Cyberchair CyberMotion Interactive Motion Seat IntelliSeat SIM245
7.3.2 Current Research and Development Denne Developments Limited Flogiston Corporation
7.4 Summary and Expectations


8.1 The Human Olfactory Sense
8.2 Commercial Products
8.2.1 BOC Group Olfactory Delivery System
8.2.2 Smell-Enhanced Experience System
8.3 Current Research and Development in Olfactory Interfaces
8.3.1 Artificial Reality Corporatio
8.3.2 Marketing Aromatics, Ltd.
8.4 Summary and Expectations