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Virtual Reality <img alt="" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />à-virtuale/__subnav/realtà-virtuale/Virtual RealityVirtual Reality <h3></h3><h3>Main goals:</h3><p style="text-align:justify;">Creation of highly realistic and plausible interactive multi-user virtual environments that host applications useful for the aerospace industry and in support of other research projects, to be included in the production areas as to improve or innovate design processes, production and product support such as human-centered design and training, as part of the more general and cross-cutting issue of ergonomics.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Similar objectives are applicable to space and planetary exploration, with the aim of creating applications for the familiarization of the astronauts with procedures, operating modes and not widely-known hosting environments like the International Space Station or Mars, also for informational purposes.</p><h3>Research topics:</h3><p style="text-align:justify;text-decoration:underline;">Physics-based interaction and interfacing through NUI (Natural User Interface) devices</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Among the main topics faced when creating a virtual environment perceived as "credible" is the modeling of the behavior of the environment objects synthetically recreated, that has to closely reproduce the physical laws that govern the real world, in particular those of the dynamics. The same model will also be applied to the behavior of objects subject to interactivity, to be grasped and manipulated, but within the limits of the manipulability of the same capabilities through the virtual hand skills (kinematic-dynamic), activated interactively by the sensors interfacing a person , compared to the shape and weight of the objects themselves.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The freedom of interaction offered by the kinematic constraints imposed between the virtual objects (such as, for example, hinges constraints for a door or axial movement for drawers or equipment's ability to be insert-extract from their housings) will result in virtual environments with the possibility of motion of objects. Another important aspect to be treated through proper physics simulation modeling is the interaction between the hand and the objects, that is, the force transfer of object manipulation which is also essential to pilot directly the force-feedback devices. Correct estimation of this force component comes from the fact of non-penetrability of the bodies, while taking into account that bodies are not infinitely rigid (soft collision response), and the force of friction, which can be approximated by pyramidal models for easier calculation.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Additionally to use a dynamic model of rigid bodies to simulate the practical execution of assembly and disassembly it is necessary to overcome the model of unchangeable constraints and pass on to a model in which the joints are "breakable" and "re-creatable" on the basis of conditions mirroring user's intent like forcing or proximity when disassembling or reassembling a part, with snap mechanisms that automatically adjust positioning during the final assembly phase.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">NUI devices, such as the Leap Motion controller and Kinect, certainly do not put at ease a physics engine with their inputs subject to jitter, the loss of visibility of the tracked body parts and sudden "reappearance" and "jumps" in space that are likely to position one of the virtual hands suddenly within an object, with disastrous consequences to the stability of the simulation.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">This area of research deals with all these aspects of the creation of a virtual environment that exhibits a physically believable behavior to the user, both in relation to the application targets as well as by using advanced human-machine interface devices that simplify access to the environment.</p><p style="text-align:justify;text-decoration:underline;">Immersive simulation of aircraft cabins (commercial airlines, business jet) for comfort ratings</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The approach to the management of an experience in first person, reconciled with the modern trend of Virtual Prototyping in minimizing, with a tendency to eliminate, the use of physical prototypes for all the design verifications, leads to the selection of Virtual Reality as a methodological solution technology to the creation of environments to be submitted to the valuations of real users in regards to the ergonomic aspects. The advantages in terms of the speed of implementation and modification of a synthetic environment-vehicle, made from three-dimensional CAD models derived and reproduced in immersive three-dimensional computer graphics, were made evident by many best practices studies and reports, together with the evaluation of the corresponding cost reductions. Among the many advantages it includes, above all, the flexibility of reconfiguration of the environment in question to be able to offer more design solutions choices, within a single immersive evaluation session, in order to choose the best. It is, in fact, sufficient to provide the three-dimensional models of each alternative, represented with the relative materials, and present them to a panel of people as alternatives giving, maybe, the possibility for the users to more rapidly converge to the final choice. Other easily obtainable interventions are: the interactive change of attributes of objects of materials, of internal and external lighting conditions, of the position of objects (i.e. folding of the front side tables). At the base of this methodology is the availability of computer graphics rendering systems combining the quality of visual rendering while maintaining adequate frame rate for the human-in-the-loop interaction that gradually made it possible obtaining real-time rendering of very high visual realism.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Going beyond the passive use by a user, the most significant plus of an experience in the Virtual Reality is the ability to bring the manual interaction skills of a person inside an environment recreated virtually, giving him the ability to reach, touch, realistically manipulate, command. In addition to visibility and visually perceived quality, a useful set of accessibility and usability assessments of commands and accessories study may be conducted in the environment of synthesis. Each with their own behavioral reaction to manual stimuli and according to specified kinematic freedom. The possibility of using force feedback devices to transfer to the user the sensation of resistance of objects during the time of grasping and the penetration (between objects and between anthropomorphous virtual counterparts and the environment) and softness, as well as weight, adds an important sensory component that is transmitted to the user. It allows to shorten even further the time to start adopting a real environment for ergonomic evaluations.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The added value resulting from the simultaneous administration of a number of stimuli (visual, mechanical-physical, vibrio-acoustic) to users that test the comfort of the design solution that is offered just like in reality, combined with the ability to make the environment recreated synthetically even more credible by allowing the person immersed direct manual interaction, is large.</p><p style="text-align:justify;text-decoration:underline;">Physics-based collaboration in a shared virtual environment</p><p style="text-align:justify;">One of the main current trends in the social world, that of sharing, can also be translated into productive work and professional environments. It is some time that the most effective design review sessions in aeronautics are collaborative in nature and involve geographically dispersed teams for joint and shared analysis of problems and search for solutions.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Cooperation in a common virtual environment, for example so that two or more people conduct jointly an operation that would not be possible by only one of them, provides a significant plus due to the simultaneity of experience sharing (same time, same place) with predictable benefits in complex training tasks.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The kind of partnership that the Virtual Reality group at CIRA wants to target is the single immersive virtual environment where two or more users can interact in first person, at the same time, with objects that populate the environment on the basis of Newtonian dynamics so physically believable. First installment would provide experience to the participants all in the same physical environment, that of the CIRA's Virtual Reality Laboratory, in which a contactless multi-person tracking system will allow to match an articulated dummy-avatar, in real time, to the physical person moving the movement. Along with the details of hands. Subsequently, with the collaboration of other similar Laboratories to that of CIRA, one will conduct experiments with participants distributed on a geographical basis while addressing the problem of predictable latencies due to transmission of remote data. Latencies that locally already pose a challenge for their minimization.</p>