Exploratory Design of Animal Habitats Within an Immersive Virtual Environment
Bowman, Douglas A.
Hodges, Larry F.
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One of the first useful applications of virtual environments (VEs) was the architectural walkthrough, in which users view buildings or other structures in a natural, interactive manner. The obvious next step is to allow the user to create or modify designs while immersed in the virtual world, but such "immersive design" systems have not generally been successful, because of a lack of constraints, the inability to perform precise input, the difficulty of performing tasks while immersed, and the fact that designers generally have not been trained to design in all three dimensions, especially in the beginning stages of a project. We present an immersive design application, aimed at university-level architecture students, which addresses these issues. Users of the system are immersed within an existing zoo habitat, and can make modifications and enhancements to the exhibit, using a set of efficient and complementary interaction techniques for navigation, object manipulation, and system control. A usability study has shown that because the students are not creating a complete design, but rather making constrained modifications to an existing one, interesting and unique designs can be achieved in a short time.