INTERNATIONAL AWARDS RECOGNITION: WORLD HAPTICS TOKYO CONFERENCE 2019 ANNOUNCED SANT’ANNA SCHOOL STUDENTS AS THE WINNERS OF THE “BEST SIC VIRTUAL REALITY CONTENT AWARD”

The student innovation challenge invites international students to use haptic technology to develop novel and exciting virtual reality system. The “Student Innovation Challenge – Virtual Reality” 2019 as part of the IEEE World Haptics Conference was held in Tokyo on July 9-12. This year, the research theme was “Implementing Haptics in Virtual Reality Environment”. Sant’Anna School students designed a game using a haptic system for virtual reality environment which has been chosen by the selection committee as the best VR game.

The IEEE World Haptics Conference is the premier international conference covering all aspects of haptics (the study of our sense of touch in medical, biological or technological applications. Encompassing a variety of sensations, such as pressure, pain and temperature, a haptic feedback or haptics sends different information to our brain by simulating the sense of touch). The IEEE World Haptics is a major conference for presenting research results in the field of haptics and share the latest scientific discoveries and innovative products.

The “Student Innovation Challenge – Virtual Reality” (SIC VR) aims to celebrate student achievements in the haptic technology. It offers an opportunity to be immersed in VR new contents and to access new “organic” experiences as VR, beside scientific applications and man-machine communication mode, also emerged as a medium for interactive art.

In IEEE World Haptics Conference 2019, participants were requested to develop a system with a haptic device (EXOS, exiii Inc.), a head mount display VR system (VIVE Pro, HTC Corp.) and a game engine (Unity, Unity Technologies Corp.).

The judging panel selected the game named “The Island”, a VR experience focusing on the repetition of a single action over time and different interaction metaphors throughout the game, as the SIC VR award winner. Taking advantage of the many possibilities offered by the EXOS Wrist DK2, Sant’Anna School PhD students and junior researchers Riccardo Galdieri, Camilla Tanca, Cristian Camardella and Michele Barsotti, under the supervision of Professor Antonio Frisoli, designed a story-based game including a series of unique mini-scenarios where the haptics device offered a bigger appealing on the public.

“The Island” is a Level 4 interactive gameplay. Interaction is necessary to reach the next level and the ultimate treasure chest. The Player is inside a labyrinth and must find his/her way out using the exoskeleton as a navigator. Once out of the labyrinth, the player (into the deep forest) needs to protect himself from a bunch of arrows. Afterwards, the player is trapped in a dark cave and finds his way out sticking to the path not getting too close to the cliff edge. Eventually, the player enters the treasure room using a sword to overcome obstacles and enemies.

Unsurprisingly, the haptic paradigm allowing complex multi-modal interaction with the environment through the sense of touch highly affected the gaming industry. The research team was proud to highlight the impact of haptic feedback on the user’s enhanced audio-visual experience: “It is our assumption that in order to increase the chances of success, every haptic device needs to be as flexible as possible, and the EXOS Wrist DK2 has the potential to be as adaptable as modern controllers. To prove this assumption, we are going to build “The Island”, a VR experience that will not only focus on the repetition of a single action over time, but that will also exploit the haptic feedback in different interaction metaphors throughout the game. Taking advantage of the many possibilities offered by the EXOS Wrist DK2, we will design a story-based game including a series of unique mini-scenarios where the haptics device will be used in different ways, proving that multi-purpose haptics have a bigger appealing on the public” they said.

EXOS Wrist DK2 can provide touch sensations in virtual reality environment by presenting front/rear and left/right forces to users’ wrist. The device works with the VIVE controller. In addition to touch sensations, EXOS can also provide force sensations such as feedbacks of shooting a gun or lifting an object. Software development kit for Unity is bundled, and users can easily develop applications with the device.

Photogallery:

Una sequenza del gioco "The Island" degli allievi della Scuola Sant'Anna
Una sequenza del gioco "The Island" degli allievi della Scuola Sant'Anna
Una sequenza del gioco "The Island" degli allievi della Scuola Sant'Anna
Una sequenza del gioco "The Island" degli allievi della Scuola Sant'Anna

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