Responsive Workbench: Research Issues

Calibration. As with other augmented reality systems, the success of the Workbench is highly dependent on a good calibration between the physical world of the user's hands with the virtual world of the objects being displayed. Popular tracking systems such as the Polhemus tracking system suffer from distortions with environmental causes such as metallic objects in the operating area. We have developed a simple calibration method that corrects for these distortions.

User interaction. We are investigating the user interface aspects of the Workbench. Our current efforts include developing a set of widgets that allow intuitive and easy interactions with objects on the tabletop, and experiments with one- and two-handed input techniques. Our goal is to devise natural ways of interacting with and manipulating objects on the workbench.

Haptic feedback. Force-feedback is an important aspect of virtual reality systems, and we are currently trying to integrate force and/or tactile feedback into our system. For example, using something like the PHANToM, which provides a normal force at the fingertip, one could feel the roughness of a particular building material. It would also be possible to push parts around in the kit-of-parts environment and feel their mass. The attraction or resistance of two magnetic alignment constraints could be felt by pulling or pushing the user's finger through the PHANToM.

Hardware issues. There are several hardware issues which we are investigating. These include the evaluation of other tracking technologies, reducing rendering and tracking latency, and the investigation of other materials for the mirror and diffusion surfaces.

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Last modified: Wed 24 Jul 1996