Perception of Distance in Virtual Reality

An Archive of a Research Project conducted In the University of Minnesota In Summer 2014 Under CRA-W's DREU program

Home Who am I? What am I doing? Who is my mentor? While not Researching? Final Report

Week Two

Last week, my partner and I were attempting to make our avatar to walk in a virtual hallway, and this week, we succeeded, yay! We also tried importing the virtual hallway that she walks in, but with some challenges.

At the beginning of the week, we watched a few tutorials on how to make actors move in Unreal game engine and made our avatar to walk around inside a game environment under our control. However, that was not what we wanted. In stead, we wanted the avatar to walk in a straight line by herself and then turn at the end of the hall way. There were a number of ways to do that; some included c++ programming and some were done by using a visual graph system (Blueprint). The first way that we found was to put a series of targets in front of the avatar and make her walk to those targets. However, this method had its own downside, since we had to press a key every time we want her to move to the next target.

Fig: Our Avatar in the old hallway in Unreal Engine

While we were at that particular stage (on Wednesday), we had a meeting with Professor Vicki and her collaborator Stephen Guy to go over ours and other related projects in a more general way. The meeting took two and a half hours, but I did not really feel the time passing. I was new to most of the things the professors and their PhD students talked about but I became certain that I didn't mind to be in such an educational environment of my interest. More reasons to consider going to graduate school, I guess.

The other segment of the project we were struggling with the whole week was the hallway itself. Peng Liu (one of Professor Vicki's grad students) gave us a file of the already made hallway to import to Unreal. However, there was something incompatible in the file which made the hallway appear in a distorted way (to be particular, it didn't have walls at some points). Therefore, we found an older file of a hallway which worked fine in Unreal, but later on, we were told that that file would not do as a replacement, since the previous file had the correct measurements and texture which corresponded to a real hallway to be used as a control in the future experiment. Hence, next week will be mostly spent on fixing the hallway file, I suppose.

Our biggest success, however, happened on Friday when we were able to make the avatar make her walk without us pressing buttons. For that purpose, we used the Matinee feature of Unreal used to make cinematic effects in a game environment. The feature is really impressive and I am curious to learn what other capabilities it has. Now, we are only left with having a working virtual hallway in place and re-applying what we already have done to the avatar to make her walk inside it. Looks like the first part of our project is about to be finished.