Head-mounted-display wearers walk into cyberspace
To provide a more immersive experience for users of head-mounted displays (HMDs), researchers at NTT Human Interface Laboratories (Kanagawa, Japan) have created a navigation interface that allows a user to "walk" through cyberspace instead of using a mouse. Two liquid-crystal displays in front of a user`s eyes provide stereographic images in a HMD, while the user`s head position and facial direction are monitored by magnetic position sensors to update the user`s image of cyberspace.
The researchers also developed a 1-m-diameter disk-shaped platform for a user to stand on while shifting his or her weight in the direction of motion. The disk is supported by four springs that allow it to tilt in response to user movement, and disk inclination is measured in two orthogonal directions by two optical distance meters. Optical-sensor output provides the direction and magnitude of weight shift by the user and are translated into direction and speed of motion in cyberspace. Comparison of user interactions using the experimental tilting mechanism to those using a traditional mouse indicated more-natural movements while standing on the disk. Additional details, such as suppression of noise generated when the user initially steps onto the platform, have yet to be worked out.