Inst. of Eng. Mech., Univ. of Tsukuba, Tsukuba 305, Japan
This paper presents a virtual reality technology for walking through large scale virtual space such as buildings or urban space. Walkthrough simulation is effective for design and presentation of architecture and urban planning. Current systems for virtual reality use gesture input to move around virtual buildings. In terms of natural interaction, however, haptic feedback for walking motion is essential to exploration of virtual space. In this system, a walker wears omnidirectional sliding devices on the feet, which generate feel of walking while position of the walker is fixed in the physical world. The system provides a feeling of uneven surface of a virtual space, such as a staircase. While the walker goes up or down stairs, the feet are pulled by strings in order to apply reaction force from the surface. The motion of the feet and the head are measured by ultrasonic sensors. Scene of a virtual space is displayed on a head-mounted display corresponding with the motion of the walker. A 6 degree-of-freedom master manipulator is developed to apply reaction force to the hand of the walker. The manipulator enables the walker to feel weight or rigidity of virtual objects.