Many applications including interactive home entertainment and battle field simulation are set to drive the development of very large scale distributed virtual reality systems. For these applications to be successful they must be responsive, allowing participants to interact with their surroundings and peers in a natural manner. An issue of prime importance in the usability of a virtual reality system is that of local latency which causes disorientation and in some cases may result in nausea (Regan and Price, 1993). Considerable investment has been made to reduce the latency on single user machines, but as the transfer of information is ultimately constrained by the speed of light, communication between physically remote peers will inevitably incur much higher, unacceptable delays.
This project focuses on the development of a unified kernel, based on an underlying time parameterised environment model incorporating time based reasoning, which reduces latency by anticipation and advance communication of events. This kernel will be designed with the emphasis on providing manageable and scaleable services for a very large number of users, interacting in real time. The kernel will be validated by comparing its performance and usability against that of an industry standard approach. A test group consisting of sites in both the UK and USA will be set up for long distance multi-user testing.
Large multi-user virtual reality systems offer a considerable economic generation potential from applications such as interactive home entertainment but can only be realised when the issues of overcoming network induced latency are addressed.
See MASSIVE-3 / HIVEK for the state of development and further resources.
Project runs from 1996 to 1999
The following are links to related pages:
MASSIVE-3 represents the ongoing development of the HIVE Project Kernel (HIVEK) a the University of Nottingham.