The concept of ‘fish tank virtual reality’ isn’t as well-known as traditional headset based VR, or augmented reality (AR). Fish tank VR involves a stereo image of a 3D scene, viewed on a monitor using perspective projection, which is then coupled to the head-position of the user. While it does have some advantages, it also has some significant drawbacks. A team of researchers from the University of British Columbia and the University of Saskatchewan are trying to minimise those problems with its new Co Globe system.
The Co Globe involves two main components; a globe-shaped monitor in which the 3D image is displayed, and some polarised glasses with tracking markers. This allows multiple users to use the system concurrently. One of the drawbacks for fish tank VR, traditionally, has been that due to the positional coupling – only one person can properly view the images at once without distortion. Combining the tracking glasses means that multiple perspectives are possible, which opens up a number of possibilities for both professional and academic collaboration, or for competitive play.
Users can use tracked controllers to interact with the images projected in the globe, or a smartphone can be used to peer further inside the virtual world to see additional details (similar to how some AR videogames operate) which means even those not equipped with the tracking glasses can still see what is going on.
The Co Globe was on display at SIGGRAPH 2018, as part of its submission to SIGGRAPH Emerging Technologies. Attendees were able to view a number of demonstrations of the technology, such as a competitive 3D ping-pong game, a collaborative VR garden, a collaborative path-finding game and a challenging 3D puzzle. A video showing the capabilities of the Co Globe is available to view below. For further coverage of this technology keep checking back with VRFocus.