20.02.19

Spherical display for virtual collaboration and conferencing

VR spherical display

A spherical display that shows 3D images from two viewpoints has been developed by researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and University of Saskatchewan.

Crystal is a ball-shaped VR display that uses calibration and graphics rendering techniques to create distortion-free 3D images that can be viewed from multiple angles currently by two users. Researchers expect to extend this to four shortly.

The 24-in (600mm) hollow ball-shaped display surface was custom-made to specifications in Ottawa. Four high-speed projectors and one camera used for creating the images, calibration and touch sensing were purchased off-the-shelf.

Sidney Fels [pictured right], an electrical and computer engineering professor at UBC,Sydney Fels headshot said: "When you look at our globe, the 3D illusion is rich and correct from any angle.

"This allows two users to use the display to do some sort of collaborative task or enjoy a multiplayer game, while being in the same space. It's one of the very first spherical VR systems with this capability."
 
Researchers hope an eventual product could be used in teleconferencing and computer-aided design. Other applications include multiplayer virtual reality games, virtual surgery and VR-aided learning.

Ian Stavness [pctured below], a computer science professor at the University of Saskatchewan and a member of the research team, said: "Imagine a remote user joining a meeting of local users. At either location you can have a Crystal globe, which is great for seeing people's heads and faces in 3D

Ian Stavness headshot"Or you can have a team of industrial designers in a room, perfecting a design with the help of VR and motion tracking technology."

Fels added: "We're not saying that spherical VR will replace flat screens or headsets, but we think it can be a good option for VR activities where you still want to see and talk to other people - be it at home or in the office, for work or play."

We’ve seen multiview projection systems before, most notably in the form of Digital Projection’s K HFR multi-view 3D projector demonstrated at ISE and Euclideon’s “hologram tables” we discovered in 2017.
VR spherical display on table with researcher handling projectors