Nav: Home

Using virtual reality to catch a real ball

March 20, 2017

Disney Research scientists have found innovative ways to enhance virtual experiences involving interactions with physical objects by showing how a person using a virtual reality system can use it to reliably catch a real ball.

"Catching and feeling the real ball in your hand makes VR much richer, more believable, more exciting, more interactive, more dynamic, more real," said Günter Niemeyer, senior research scientist.

Catching a ball requires many coordinated skills learned from early childhood, including strong hand-eye coordination. Niemeyer and Matthew Pan, a Disney Research lab associate and a Ph.D. student at the University of British Columbia, showed that this tight coordination is possible in virtual reality (VR) and that users are able to catch real flying balls.

Different styles of visualization may also lead to different behaviors and can even make catching easier, they found.

Niemeyer and Pan will present their work at the IEEE Virtual Reality 2017 conference in Los Angeles March 18-22.

"As virtual reality systems become increasingly common, the idea that the user experience can be enriched by enabling dynamic interaction with real objects is gaining interest," said Markus Gross, vice president for research at Disney Research. "This early work by our team is tantalizing and suggests that bridging the virtual and real worlds is not only possible, but offers many new opportunities and benefits."

Niemeyer and Pan demonstrated the use of VR to catch a real ball by using a motion capture system to track the motion of the ball as well as the location of the catcher's hands and head. The scene is then virtually rendered and viewed through a head-mounted display.

Several visualization options were studied: one similar to the real-world experience in which only the ball's position is rendered and two other options that either showed the predicted trajectory of the ball or simply showed a target area where a catch could be made.

Users had success catching the ball in all three visualizations, Pan said. When only the ball position was rendered, users caught 95 percent of the balls tossed underhanded to them. Catching was equally successful in the other modes, though the catching strategy changed when only the target location was identified. In those cases, the catcher's hands reach the catch location much earlier prior to the catch.

"The most apparent explanation is that, without information about the ball's location, the catcher must rely on the identified target point, changing the task from one requiring higher brain functions to estimate trajectory to a simpler, visually guided pointing task," Pan said.

The ability of the system to predict the flight of a real ball and visualize it for the user gives the catcher an advantage not available in the real world, he noted.

"With VR, we can show you the future by pre-rendering where the ball is going to be," Niemeyer said. "For some types of interactions, game designers might choose to take advantage of VR to make certain tasks easier, just as using a net to catch balls might make some games more enjoyable."

Combining creativity and innovation, this research continues Disney's rich legacy of leveraging technology to enhance the tools and systems of tomorrow.
-end-
For more information, including a video, visit the project web site at https://www.disneyresearch.com/publication/catching-a-real-ball-in-virtual-reality.

About Disney Research

Disney Research is a network of research laboratories supporting The Walt Disney Company. Its purpose is to pursue scientific and technological innovation to advance the company's broad media and entertainment efforts. Vice President Markus Gross manages Disney Research facilities in Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Zürich, and works closely with the Pixar and ILM research groups in the San Francisco Bay Area. Research topics include computer graphics, animation, video processing, computer vision, robotics, wireless & mobile computing, human-computer interaction, displays, behavioral economics, and machine learning.

Website: http://www.disneyresearch.com
Twitter: @DisneyResearch
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DisneyResearch

Disney Research

Related Virtual Reality Articles:

New 3-D display takes the eye fatigue out of virtual reality
A new type of 3-D display could solve the long-standing problem eye fatigue when using VR and AR equipment by greatly improving the viewing comfort of these wearable devices.
A glove powered by soft robotics to interact with virtual reality environments
Engineers at UC San Diego are using soft robotics technology to make light, flexible gloves that allow users to feel tactile feedback when they interact with virtual reality environments.
The 'reality' of virtual reality pornography
How the latest digital technology could blur the line between reality and fantasy, pushing the dangers of porn to a whole new level.
Physical keyboards make virtual reality typing easier
What's better than a holographic keyboard? A real one, apparently.
Can virtual reality help us prevent falls in the elderly and others?
Every year, falls lead to hospitalization or death for hundreds of thousands of elderly Americans.
More Virtual Reality News and Virtual Reality Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans
More than test scores or good grades — what do kids need to prepare them for the future? This hour, guest host Manoush Zomorodi and TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, in and out of the classroom. Guests include educators Olympia Della Flora and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#535 Superior
Apologies for the delay getting this week's episode out! A technical glitch slowed us down, but all is once again well. This week, we look at the often troubling intertwining of science and race: its long history, its ability to persist even during periods of disrepute, and the current forms it takes as it resurfaces, leveraging the internet and nationalism to buoy itself. We speak with Angela Saini, independent journalist and author of the new book "Superior: The Return of Race Science", about where race science went and how it's coming back.